Between a trade that took away one player, and a family emergency that sent another one home, the Mud Hens weren’t exactly at full strength Wednesday night.
Playing with only one reserve on the bench wasn’t the reason Toledo suffered its third straight loss, a 6-3 setback to Durham at Fifth Third Field, but it sure didn’t help.
PHOTO GALLEY: Hens lose 6-3 against Durham
Detroit’s late-night trade Tuesday of Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox, along with Nick Castellanos leaving to be with his wife, who went into labor, meant the only position player on the bench was catcher Brad Davis.
“It’s all part of [Triple-A baseball],” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “We had capable bodies out there, and we had a chance to win a game that was tied until the eighth. But we had one pitch that hurt us.”
That pitch came in the top of the eighth in a 3-3 contest. Darin Downs, pitching in a rehab assignment with the Hens, had given up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. In came reliever Jose Ortega to face the Bulls’ Leslie Anderson, who fell behind in the count 1-2 before lashing a two-run double high off the fence in right-center.
“It was a pitch I’m sure Jose wishes he had back,” Nevin said. “He got [Anderson] to swing over the top of a good slider down in the dirt, and then he threw a great fastball in that tied him up.
“You think that if [Ortega] throws another pitch in the dirt you might get him to chase. But he left the pitch up and [Anderson] got hold of it.”
Durham got a sacrifice fly for a third run, and the Bulls bullpen held on to send the Hens to their third loss in a row.
Toledo’s Jordan Lennerton, who had four hits and a walk in five plate appearances, said playing without Garcia and Castellanos wasn’t a concern to he and his teammates.
“I think the only difference is that we’re playing with a short bench,” Lennerton said. “That’s the only thing that gives us any type of worry.
“We’ve got guys on this team who can play every day — and can produce every day. Nick is a great player, but we’ve got other guys who can fill in and get the job done.”
Jair Jurrjens made his first start for the Mud Hens since pitching July 9 for Norfolk, allowed two runs in the second and one in the first and finished with seven hits allowed in five innings.
“He may have been a touch rusty,” Nevin said of Jurrjens. “The balls that got hit in the second came back over the plate a little too much. But I thought as the game went on, his command got better and better.”
Downs, in his second rehab performance after going on Detroit’s disabled list July 7 because of shoulder tendonitis, retired the Bulls in 1-2-3 order in the seventh before struggling in the eighth.
“It’s the first time he’s gone two innings, and that second one was a little tough for him,” Nevin said. “The command was a tick off, but he hasn’t been out there in a while.”
NOTES: Downs and Jeremy Bonderman provided a post-game clubhouse spread for their teammates the past two nights. Downs bought food from Outback Steakhouse on Tuesday, while Bonderman provided P.F. Chang’s on Wednesday. … Mud Hens hitting coach Leon “Bull” Durham celebrated his 56th birthday Wednesday. … Because the Hens were short-handed, intern Tad Margolies served as a bullpen catcher. Margolies was a catcher at Southview High School.