The Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the Mud Hens' early season continued yesterday in a doubleheader split with Louisville.
In yesterday's first game it was just like Opening Day. The offense generated plenty of runs and the pitching made it stand up in an 8-4 victory.
Game two, though, was reminiscent of Saturday's shutout loss. The bats again were silent in a 4-0 defeat.
“In this kind of weather, it seems like the hitting goes in streaks,” said Hens second baseman Warren Morris. “Five or six guys in a row hit the ball well, and then five or six in a row don't. You have to make your hits count when you get on a hot streak.”
Toledo made its hits count in game one, bunching eight of the 11 in a three-run first and a five-run fifth.
The Hens jumped on Louisville starter Pete Harnisch in the opening inning. With one out Danny Klassen drilled a 3-2 pitch for Toledo's first home run of the season, and Ernie Young followed a Craig Monroe single by launching a shot over the left-center fence.
But the Bats got two of those runs back in the top of the second, then tied the game in the fourth when Corky Miller hammered Hens starter Chris Mears' first pitch over the scoreboard in left. Louisville took the lead in the fifth when Jose Guillen drew a one-out walk, stole second, then came home when a Jacob Cruz grounder went through Klassen's legs at short.
But that only set the stage for the Hens' five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth. Andres Torres led off with a single, then moved around to third on a groundout by Klassen. Torres retied the game when the first pitch by Bats reliever Brian Reith got past Miller for a wild pitch.
Monroe doubled and Kevin Witt drew a walk before Young tapped a check-swing grounder down the third-base line. Miller picked up the dribbler but threw wildly to first, allowing Monroe to score and putting runners on second and third.
The Bats intentionally walked Derek Nicholson to load the bases, but one out later Morris blew up that strategy, driving a 1-2 pitch into the right-field corner for a bases-clearing double.
“With two strikes you've just got to protect and be ready for anything,” Morris said. “[Reith] threw a splitter on the pitch before and it was nasty. Then he threw a splitter that stayed over the plate, and I just tried to keep my hands back and drive it.”
The five-run rally made a winner of Hens reliever Terry Pearson, who threw 21/3 innings of one-hit, one-walk ball. The rally also put a smile on the face of Hens manager Larry Parrish.
“I thought we swung the bats well in the first game,” he said. “To come back to win a ballgame like that was great.”
But the good feeling didn't last long as the Bats' Lance Davis scattered four hits in shutting out the Hens for the second time in as many days.
“It looked like we were swinging the bats defensively [in the second game],” Parrish said. “We were worried about having a bad swing instead of taking a good one.”
The Hens' Nate Robertson wasn't able to match Davis, but he did perform well. His only mistake came in the fourth with Jason Maxwell on first base and two outs. The southpaw fell behind Emil Brown 3-1, and Brown crushed the next pitch to left, hitting the SeaGate Centre on the fly.
“I thought Robertson did a very good job,” Parrish said. “He got behind one guy, challenged him, and [Brown] hit the home run.”
The newest Hen, Tyler Walker, threw two innings in relief and was touched for a two-run homer by Mike Stefanski.
NOTES: Yesterday's crowd of 4,354 is the fifth-lowest attendance total in the two-year history of Fifth Third Field. ... The game-time temperature was 32 degrees, with winds whipping at 21 mph to drop the wind chill to 20. ... Harnisch, making his first start since June 9, 2001, lasted just one inning and gave up five hits. He left the game with a tight left hamstring.
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