Perhaps it's time for another bonfire.
The Mud Hens won eight straight games, including six in a row on the road, after a bonfire was used to snap a long losing skid. But the Hens now find themselves in a three-game losing streak after dropping an 8-3 decision to the Richmond Braves at Skeldon Stadium yesterday.
For the fourth straight game the Braves pummeled Hen pitching, yesterday rapping 15 hits and scoring runs in each of the first four innings. In the series Richmond had 58 hits and scored 33 runs.
“Our pitching hasn't been what it was during the (winning) streak,” said Hens manager Bruce Fields. “They got the hits when they needed them - hard hits, soft hits, key hits. It didn't matter what we threw or who threw it, they hit it.”
In the first inning the Braves scratched out a run when Jesse Garcia singled off the glove of Toledo starter Adam Pettyjohn, then stole both second and third without a throw. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Marcus Giles.
Dax Norris doubled home a run for Richmond in the second, then both Giles and Howard Battle singled home runs in the third.
Giles' bases-loaded, two-run single in the fourth gave him four RBIs in the game and put the Braves up 6-0.
“We haven't pitched well in this series, and you have to give their hitters credit,” Fields said. “They have pesky hitters who put the bat on the ball, and they created opportunities for themselves.”
Richmond entered this season last in the International League in runs scored, and Braves manager Carlos Tosca was at a loss to explain the recent offensive explosion.
“The curvature of the earth? Newton's law of gravity?” Tosca said, then laughed. “I wish I had an answer for you. Baseball is a funny game.”
But it was the Braves who were laughing as the Hens, who scored 15 runs in a series-opening win, managed just three runs in the fifth inning. That rally was keyed by four walks from Braves starter Delvis Pacheco, who before that inning had held Toledo scoreless on five hits.
Giomar Guevara was hit by a Pacheco pitch to lead off the fifth, and Pacheco followed that by walking Rich Becker in a 11-pitch at-bat. A double-play groundout by Brian Rios blunted the rally, but Pacheco walked the next four hitters to force home a run and Chris Wakeland stroked a two-run single to drive Pacheco out of the game.
Aaron Small came on for the Braves. He prevented further damage that inning and earned the win. He and fellow relievers Billy Sylvester and Jake Robbins gave up just one hit and one walk over the final 41/3 innings.
The Hens begin a four-game series with Rochester at Skeldon Stadium tonight at 7. Victor Santos will make his first start for Toledo this season against the Red Wings' Calvin Maduro (2-7).
NOTES: After scoring 15 runs on 18 hits in the first game against Richmond last Thursday, the Hens managed just six runs on 17 hits in the final three games. ... Lyle Mouton returned to the Hens yesterday after his sister's wedding. He had a single and a run scored in four at-bats. ... Matt Perisho pitched in the ninth inning and allowed an unearned run on two hits. That was the first run Perisho has allowed with the Hens after 13 scoreless innings spread over nine games. ... David Lindstrom, normally a catcher, played second base for his third straight game yesterday.