COLUMBUS - The hole was dug by the end of the first inning. And every time the Toledo Mud Hens got back near the surface, the host Clippers poured on a little more dirt until the final tamping was administered in the seventh and eighth innings.
Columbus scored four runs in the first - aided by three Hen errors - then answered every comeback attempt by the visitors en route to an 11-8 victory last night in front of 6,105 fans at Cooper Stadium.
Losers of three in a row, the Mud Hens (59-62) dropped to nine games behind first-place Louisville (68-53) and 11/2 games behind second-place Columbus (61-61) in the International League West Division.
“It's tough, you know, because we battled back,” said Cody Ross, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and now has at least one hit in 21 of his last 23 games and is hitting .380 over that span.
“We got down early and came back, then scored [three runs in the seventh] to tie it up [7-all]. We were down the whole game and it seemed like we were fighting for air the whole time.
“But they battled too. They just kept swinging the bats.”
Toledo scored three runs in the third to cut its deficit to 4-3, but the Clippers added their third unearned run in the bottom of the inning after the Mud Hens committed their league-leading 127th error with two outs. One more run came in the top of the fifth on Ross' RBI single, but Columbus answered right back with a two-run home run by Erick Almonte in the bottom of the frame for a 7-4 lead.
Then the Mud Hens finally tied the game at 7-all as Ross' RBI groundout was followed by Ernie Young's two-run home run. Young entered the series with one hit in his last 25 at-bats, but, after going 2-for-4 in Friday night's 8-4 loss, finished 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and four RBIs.
However, continuing the theme of the night, the Clippers came right back in the bottom of the seventh and scored three runs. The scoring was capped in the eighth as Toledo's Danny Klassen and Columbus' Juan Rivera traded solo home runs.
“It just seems like, to me, that we're not clicking as a team,” Ross said. “If we get good pitching, we're not getting enough runs. Then if we're hitting, we don't get the pitching. We're just not on the same page, and we're not hitting on all cylinders.”
Jason Jimenez took the loss, allowing two runs on four hits in 21/3 innings in relief of starter Tyler Walker, who went four-plus innings and gave up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits after just being removed from the disabled list.
Today's game is scheduled to start at 5:05 p.m. with Pat Ahearne (4-3, 3.33 ERA) taking the mound for Toledo against Christian Parker (5-6, 5.31).