Hens lose series opener 5-4 against IndianapolisWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A three-run eighth inning cost the Toledo Mud Hens (3-9) the victory in the series opener against the Indianapolis Indians on April 15. Toledo lost the game 5-4.
Trailing 4-2 going into the eighth inning, the Indians (8-4) sent eight batters to the plate, scoring three runs on four hits.
After Toledo relief pitcher Evan Reed allowed singles to Jordy Mercer and Brett Carroll, he walked center fielder Felix Pie, loading the bases with one out.
Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin then switched Reed with Bruce Rondon.
The first batter faced, Matt Hague, grounded a single into left field, just under the glove of third baseman Argenis Diaz – who was running to his left – scoring Mercer and Carroll.
The next batter, Jerry Sands, hit a single up the middle, scoring Pie and giving Indianapolis the lead.
“It’s a tough play and I know [Diaz] expects [himself] to make it,” Nevin said. “If it’s a foot to the right, [Rondon is] out of there with a couple of pitches and he goes out there for the ninth. It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes.”
The Indians got on the board first when Brandon Inge took his first pitch high off the left field wall, scoring leadoff hitter Josh Harrison.
Inge, a former Mud Hen who played 12 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, finished the night 1-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Toledo answered back and took a 3-1 lead in the third inning when right fielder Ben Guez belted an 0-1 pitch off the left field wall with the bases loaded, scoring Diaz, Kevin Russo and Jordan Lennerton.
“I knew with the bases loaded that he had to throw a strike in that at-bat and I didn’t want to expand the zone and let him get away with throwing some balls there and luckily I got a pitch to hit and I drove it,” Guez said.
Guez, who came into the game batting .167, went 2-for-3, hitting a single and scoring in the sixth inning.
“It took me a little bit longer than I would’ve hoped to get my timing and rhythm down, but tonight I found it and it clicked and it worked,” he said.
Indianapolis cut the deficit to a run in the top of the fifth after catcher Tony Sanchez hit a double to center field.
Sanchez scored two batters later after second baseman Josh Harrison hit a ground ball to Diaz at third. Diaz threw the ball left of catcher Bryan Holaday, who just missed Sanchez, who dodged the tag on the slide and touched home plate.
“I couldn’t believe it; I just saw the way he fell and the way he kind of slid and I thought there was no way he touched home,” Nevin said. “I mean he did; it was right; it was a good call.”
Toledo catcher Bryan Holady drove in Guez, who led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, on a 1-2 pitch to extend the Mud Hens lead to 4-2.
Mud Hens starting pitcher Pat Misch (0-2, 8.25 ERA) earned a no-decision after going 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out four Indians on 85 pitches.
His outing was an improvement from his last start against Indianapolis, in which he allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings on April 10.
Nevin said Misch’s off-speed pitch was particularly working well for him, leaving batters “uncomfortable” at the plate.
“He spotted it well and it kept them off balance,” Nevin said. “When he has that off-speed and can locate his fastball, he’s going to have a lot of uncomfortable at-bats and you see those guys go back not happy about that.”
The loss is the Mud Hens’ second straight after winning two straight against the Louisville Bats on April 12-13.
“It’s definitely frustrating because we want to win. We’re out there grinding, trying to win and when you don’t, it’s not what you want as a team,” Guez said. “That being said, we’re only a couple of weeks in and I think that the character of the team will bloom into something much better than it is and I really see some positive things coming.”
The second game of the series is scheduled for April 16 at 6:30 p.m.
The Mud Hens have Casey Crosby (0-2, 9.00) slated to pitch against Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.00), who was the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tags: Toledo Mud Hens