Mud Hens catcher Michael Rivera, left, holds on after a collision at the plate with Scranton's J.P. Roberge, who was out.
Allan Detrich Enlarge
When a team is struggling to score runs, it sometimes has to take some chances.
The Mud Hens took one of those chances in the seventh inning yesterday, and it ended up costing them in a 2-1 loss to Scranton at Fifth Third Field.
The game was played before a crowd of 10,300 to tie the third-highest attendance figure in Fifth Third Field history. It was the ninth sellout since the new ballpark opened this season.
Through the first six innings the Hens had managed just two hits against Red Barons starter Brett Myers, who had shut out Toledo on one hit in Scranton on April 25.
But with one out in the seventh Craig Monroe broke a string of 12 consecutive batters retired by Myers with a bloop single to right. Ryan Jackson then lofted a long fly ball to the right corner that looked as if it might go out but just missed clearing the fence.
“I thought it had a chance to go out,” said Hens manager Bruce Fields. “Ryan said it jammed him a little bit, though. I was hoping it was out.”
Jackson wasn't sure, either.
“It was pretty iffy that it was going out,” Jackson said. “I found out later that I had broke my bat on it. It definitely wasn't a no-doubt homer.”
But Monroe, who had to hold up in case the ball was caught, tried to score on the play. Red Barons right fielder Eric Valent threw a long strike home and Monroe was out to blunt the threat.
“I wanted to take a chance, hoping to make something happen,” Fields said of sending Monroe. “I thought he could score, and I thought it would take a perfect throw to get him. [Valent] made a perfect throw.”
After that Toledo didn't threaten until the ninth, when Jarrod Patterson, Monroe and Jackson strung together three straight singles to plate the Hens' only run. With the potential game-tying run on second, Mike Rivera flied out to left to end the game.
That flyout ends a frustrating string of games for the Hens, who lost six of eight to the Red Barons this season. Toledo scored just five runs in the four games here and a total of 11 in eight contests.
Hens starter Brian Powell knew that, and he was nearly up to the task of shutting down Scranton. He gave up just one run and four hits in eight innings, with the Barons scoring what proved to be the winning run in the ninth off reliever Eric Eckenstahler.
“[Scranton's] got a great pitching staff, and you know they're not going to give up a lot of runs,” Powell said. “You just try not to give up the big inning against them. You just try to keep your team in the game.”
Powell did that, but his downfall came in the fifth. With two outs the right-hander walked Bruce Aven, and J.P. Roberge drilled a long line drive that Andres Torres could not run down in center for an RBI double.
Scranton threatened to score another run that inning when Jason Knupfer singled to left, but Monroe's throw home arrived well ahead of Roberge, and Rivera held onto the ball as Roberge plowed into him.
NOTES: Before the game the Tigers purchased the contract of Hens closer Oscar Henriquez. Henriquez was voted to the Triple-A All-Star team and posted a 2-1 record with 17 saves and a 3.31 ERA for Toledo. Left-hander Tim Adkins was promoted from Double-A Erie to take Henriquez's spot on the roster. ... The Hens' rotation is still taking shape after Brian Moehler returned to Detroit. Nate Cornejo will take his scheduled start today, while Seth Greisinger will come off the disabled list to start tomorrow. Greisinger went on the disabled list June 18 with right shoulder tendinitis. Tuesday's starter has not been announced, but it won't be Matt Perisho, who will return to the bullpen. ... Left-hander J.J. Pearsall was in the Hens' clubhouse yesterday. He began the season in the Marlins organization, where he was 1-0 with a .743 ERA in nine appearances for Triple-A Calgary and 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 games for Double-A Portland, Me. ... The Hens have said they will cap single-game ticket sales at 10,300 for the remaining 32 games this season.