Louisville spoils Mud Hens home opener in 4-1 lossWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | email@example.com
The weather and the Toledo Mud Hens’ bats were cold in their home opener as they lost 4-1 to the Louisville Bats (5-3) April 11.
In a game where the temperature at 5 p.m. was 38 degrees, the Mud Hens (1-7) mustered three hits and scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth when Bats pitcher Kevin Whelan walked first baseman Jordan Lennerton with the bases loaded and two outs.
“That’s baseball. 80 miles up the road, they’re playing in the same stuff,” said Hens manager Phil Nevin. “That’s not an excuse and we played a baseball game and all 18 guys had to play in the same stuff.”
After their first eight games, Toledo is last in the International League in team batting average, posting a .193 (51-of-264).
“I can look through a media guide on half that lineup and I can tell you they’re not going to hit .120,” Nevin said. “Quintin Berry is not going to hit .140 and he’s a big part of our lineup. Danny Worth’s not going to hit where he’s at. That’s just how baseball is and numbers get so skewed this early in the season; that’s just how it goes this early.”
Toledo starting pitcher Casey Crosby, who picked up his second loss of the season (0-2 9.00 ERA), allowed one run on two hits in four innings of work, striking out five but walking four batters.
His first three innings of work were strong, only allowing one hit and striking out the side in the first inning.
“Everything was just free and easy and I was just letting it go and it was going where I wanted,” Crosby said. “I think when I missed a couple of times, I start to question my mechanics and question my delivery.”
Things got shaky for him in the fourth inning, however, as he walked shortstop Jason Donald and Henry Rodriguez back-to-back.
Right fielder Denis Phipps got the game’s first run when he connected on a line drive that hit first base and bounced into the outfield.
After walking the first two batters of the fifth inning, Nevin swapped Crosby with reliever Luke Putkonen, who pitched three innings and allowed two unearned runs on three hits.
“His first three innings were good, he just lost the strike zone,” Nevin said. “That’s something Casey battles with, in a little adversity is keeping his focus, keeping his concentration, it’s something we’re working on and I think we lost a little bit of that in the third or fourth.”
The Bats added to their lead after scoring two runs in the sixth inning.
Phipps reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Danny Worth. Neftali Soto hit a double, scoring Phipps to make it 2-0 Louisville.
After Soto reached third on a sacrifice fly by catcher Corky Miller, he scored on a two-out squeeze play by third baseman Ray Chang.
The Bats scored their final run in the eighth inning when Phipps reached base on Worth’s second throwing error of the night, bringing his season total to three errors.
Soto then hit a double off the left field wall, scoring Phipps and picking up his second RBI of the night.
Down to their last out, Toledo left fielder Nick Castellanos connected on a single to keep the game alive.
Whelan then walked the next three batters, scoring Castellanos, before striking out Worth to pick up his first save of the season.
The loss is the Mud Hens’ fourth straight and Nevin said despite the cold start, it is still early in the season and he is confident things will turn around.
“I’m not sure what the timetable is where you say it is still early but it is still early,” he said. “We’re eight games into the season and there are a lot of guys that aren’t swinging the bats they way they will.
“I don’t want them to lose any confidence; bull’s working hard with them and they’re working hard, right now we’re not just getting hits. I understand where the record is at but if we run six-out-of-seven here the rest of the home stand and we’re right back where we want to be.”
The Mud Hens return to the diamond April 12 when they host the Bats at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.
Southpaw Duane Below (0-0, 3.00 ERA) is expected to start for Toledo against righty Pedro Villarreal (0-0, 2.57 ERA).