Toledo’s Ben Guez, center, is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
Mud Hens starter Shawn Hill saved his best for his last outing of the season on Thursday, but an anemic Toledo offense wasted it.
Hill (4-14) made his team-leading 26th start of the season and gave up just six hits and two runs in seven strong innings.
But the Mud Hens managed just three hits and lost 3-2 in 11 innings to Indianapolis before a crowd of 7,875 at Fifth Third Field.
Hill entered with a 5.65 earned run average and had struggled in the opening innings of his starts. But Hill threw 107 pitches, struck out four, and walked three. Hill did not allow a hit during the first two innings and struck out two.
“I kind of salvaged my season in a sense,” Hill said. “Obviously I’d like to get a win. But I got the feel back. I have a lot of work to do in the off season. But this will at least give me a springboard.”
Toledo batters struck out 18 times.
“They pitched [well]. Give them credit,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “But you have to find a way to grind out at bats. These are all pitchers we’ve seen before. We need to take better at bats.”
The Indians manufactured the go-ahead run in the 11th off of reliever Evan Reed. After a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt, Carlos Paulino singled in the winning run with two outs.
The Mud Hens wasted a solid outing from a starting pitcher for the second straight game. One night after getting just five hits in a 1-0 loss in extra innings to Indianapolis, right fielder Ben Guez staked Toledo to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run home run over the left-field fence, his 18th home run of the year.
But those were the only runs the Hens would get to support Hill.
The Indians came up with back-to-back RBI singles off of Hill to tie it at 2 in the third inning.
Hill, a 32-year-old right hander, said he changed his mechanics in April and it “threw him for a loop.”
“I wasn't throwing like myself. It's slowly coming back,” he said. “My stuff is not back all the way but I'm starting to see signs of it. I almost wish I had another month left. I'm not tired and I wish I had more time to get back to where I'm supposed to.”
Hill allowed a leadoff double to start the seventh but worked out of further trouble.
“It's been a tough year for Shawn,” Nevin said. “But he’s worked and battled. He had a stint where he pitched hurt and did not say much. But he never complained. He took the ball and finished very strong.”
Nick Castellanos and Mike Cervenak had the other two Hens hits. “After that first inning, there wasn't much offense,” Nevin said.