During his first full professional season, MacKenzie Gore has learned how to work through the low points. Sunday's start showed off his progress to a tee.
The third overall pick in the 2017 Draft struck out a career-high 10 batters, but took the hard-luck loss after giving up two runs on three hits and three walks in five frames as Class A Fort Wayne fell to Peoria, 2-1, at Dozer Park.
Video: Fort Wayne's Gore fans 10th batter of the afternoon
Gore spent much of the first two months of the campaign on the disabled list. Baseball's No. 13 overall prospect was sidelined twice with a blister on his left middle finger, first from April 13 to May 8 and then again from May 22 until June 10. After his second stint on the DL, Gore allowed one hit and one walk while fanning eight over five scoreless frames spanning two starts before weathering five subsequent up-and-down outings.
"The hand feels 100 percent. I was certainly out long enough, so I'm glad [the time off] seemed to work," Gore told MiLB.com in June.
Gameday box score
Sunday's outing began with a clean first frame. He fanned his second batter of the afternoon to lead off the second, but Yariel Gonzalez advanced to first on a dropped third strike. Gore walked J.R. Davis, and after Bryce Denton whiffed, Gonzalez and Davis executed a double steal. Jose Martinez dropped in a sacrifice fly that plated Gonzalez.
In the third, Gore walked Andres Luna but the Fort Wayne starter caught Luna in a rundown between first and second. Irving Lopez doubled and scored on a single by Dennis Ortega and Elehuris Montero followed with a single. From there, San Diego's top pitching prospect capped the inning with punchouts of Gonzalez and Davis.
A one-out walk of Martinez in the fourth was Gore's only other blemish and he set down eight of his final nine batters -- five via the strikeout. He exceeded his previous careeer high by three -- the 6-foot-3-inch, 191-pound lefty fanned seven over four frames for in the Rookie-level Arizona League on last Aug. 22.
Despite the loss, Gore (1-4) lowered his ERA to a season-low 4.00.
"I'm on top of my game when I pitch with an edge. For whatever reason, that edge was missing my first few times out," Gore told MiLB.com in June. "I wasn't pitching with any sort of frustration or extra purpose, but I was out there competing and it showed in the results."
Tirso Ornelas led the TinCaps at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI double for the team's lone run.
Peoria's Paul Balestrieri (6-4) allowed a run on four hits and two walks while striking out five over 5 2/3 innings.