ROCHESTER, N.Y. - After starting the season poorly, the Toledo Mud Hens may have found the answer to their problems.
It's “the Rally Drum,” and the Hens are 2-0 since outfielder Chris Wakeland brought it into the dugout Tuesday night.
Last night was the drum's second appearance, and some of the Hens are convinced that pounding on it helped them overcome a 4-2 deficit with three runs in the final two innings. The 5-4 victory over the Rochester Red Wings was Toledo's third in a row in a four-game series that ends with a 12:05 p.m. game today.
Tuesday, the Hens broke loose for five runs in the 12th inning for a 5-0 win.
Toledo's improvement to 13-14 also might have had something to do with some long-awaited clutch hitting and exceptional pitching that has held Rochester to five runs in 30 innings.
“It was just a matter of time before we started hitting the ball,” said manager Bruce Fields. “We got some hitters who had some key hits late.”
The Hens broke loose with 12 hits, but left 10 runners on base through the first eight innings. In the ninth, Ryan Jackson led off with a double and moved up one base each on fly balls by Eric Munson and Chad Alexander.
“You want your outs to be used in a positive way,” Fields said. “We had a couple of good at-bats there.”
“I was just trying to look for a good pitch,” said Alexander, who already had three singles and had scored the tying run in the eighth.
Omar Infante had four singles in four at-bats, scored once, drove in the game-tying run, stole three bases and handled nine chances flawlessly in the field.
Meanwhile, Toledo's Adam Bernero gave up 10 hits in six innings, but was scored on only when Rochester bunched five hits to score three runs in the fourth.
“We've got a good pitching staff. I think I'm a pretty good pitching coach,” joked Fields, who will welcome Britt Burns as the Hens' pitching coach when the Hens return home tomorrow.
And what about that Rally Drum, which looks suspiciously like a bucket that used to contain bubble gum?
“I can't say,” Wakeland didn't say. “I don't want to jinx it.”