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Published: Thursday, 4/18/2002

Hens have no fun in the sun


NORFOLK, Va. - When Norfolk's Andy Tracy lifted a routine fly ball to right field yesterday afternoon and Toledo's Chris Wakeland lost it in the sun, Tracy ended up at third with a run-scoring triple.

It was an appropriate microcosm of the day as the Mud Hens fell to the Tides 7-0 at Harbor Park.

After beating Norfolk in their previous six games this season, the Mud Hens (7-7 overall) flopped from the outset in July-like conditions that somehow appeared in mid-April.

With temperatures hovering in the low 90s, Jae Seo's fastball did the same as the South Korean went a strong six innings, giving up three hits, striking out two and walking none.

“I didn't think Seo was all that great,” Toledo manager Bruce Fields said. “I think we were not prepared to play today. We were not focused and we didn't have a lot of intensity.”

The end result was a total of four Mud Hens hits. No Mud Hen made it beyond second base and only two got that far, when Chad Alexander and Matt Walbeck singled in the third inning and when Walbeck doubled off Tides reliever Justin Brunette in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Tides were collecting 13 hits spread among their nine batters. Rob Stratton hit his third home run in two games and Tracy went 3-for-5.

Shane Loux (1-2), who gave up nine hits and six runs in his five innings, was saddled with the loss. Seo's performance wasn't dominating, but it was efficient.

“That was the guy I saw pitch 15 innings in the playoffs in St. Lucie four years ago and give up only one hit,” Tides manager Bobby Floyd said. “I think he feels more comfortable right now throwing all of his pitches.”

At this point, Seo (1-1) is still a medical reclamation project. He underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in the spring of 1999 and has been slowly progressing since. He kept the Mud Hens off balance with a knee-buckling change-up.

The Tides scored in five successive innings and in a variety of ways. Had the Mud Hens not cut down runners at the plate on three occasions, this could have been a double-digit loss by Toledo, which will travel to Richmond for a two-game series starting tonight.

“Obviously, we wanted to win three in a row and knock 'em out,” Fields said.

“But we just played crappy.”

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