The Mud Hens had no one to blame but themselves for last night's 5-4 loss to Norfolk at Skeldon Stadium.
Bad baserunning killed rallies in five different innings as the Hens saw a modest two-game winning streak come to an end.
“We didn't play good baseball to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Hens manager Bruce Fields. “We seem to find a way to lose games instead of finding ways to win them.”
The most painful baserunning blunder came in the ninth inning as the Hens were trying to score the game-tying run. Brian Rios singled and was replaced at first by pinch-runner Pedro Santana.
Trace Coquillette laid down a sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at first; then Tides second baseman Ty Wigginton threw to second and caught Santana off the base for a double play.
“I send Pedro in (to run) not to steal a base, but just to give us more speed and perhaps score on a long hit,” Fields said. “Then he got picked off (second) trying to do too much. He played as if he were in (Single-A) ball. I had to tell him guys at this level make plays.”
That double play was one of four the Hens ran themselves into in the contest.
In the first inning Rich Becker walked; but when Alex Escobar caught Giomar Guevara's line drive to left-center, Becker was unable to return to first in time and was doubled off.
In the second the Hens scored a run when Kurt Bierek singled, moved to second on a passed ball, then scored on an RBI single by Rios. But Rios was thrown out at second base trying to advance, to end the inning.
In the third inning a baserunning boo-boo killed a potential rally. Coquillette walked and Jermaine Allensworth was hit by a pitch, setting up runners on first and second with none out.
But Coquillette was picked off second to blunt the rally. Then Allensworth was caught stealing after Rich Becker struck out for another twin-killing.
The same type of double-play killed a scoring threat in the fifth when Bierek struck out and Guevara was cut down trying to steal.
The Hens did score three times in the fourth thanks to four hits and a pair of walks, but Norfolk was able to come back in winning for the seventh time in nine games.
The key blows for the Tides were back-to-back homers by Jorge Toca and Matt Franco in the sixth. The twin blasts, which came on back-to-back pitches by Hens starter Shane Loux, retied the game at 4-4.
In the ninth Norfolk scored the winning run, an unearned run off reliever Matt Perisho. Singles by pinch-hitter Gabby Martinez and by Kevin Baez put runners on first and third with two outs, and Alex Escobar reached on a grounder in the hole at short that Guevara was unable to scoop, scoring Martinez.
With the Hens' baserunning boners yesterday, that run was enough.
NOTES: Among those in attendance at last night's game were three members of the parent Detroit Tigers' front office. Watching the game were Dave Miller, the Tigers' director of minor-league operations; Ricky Bennett, the team's assistant for baseball operations; and former Tiger great Willie Horton. Horton and Al Kaline recently were named to Mike Ilitch's advisory board.