A rainout in Louisville on Friday put the Mud Hens in a situation yesterday where the bullpen would have to pitch well for a win.
Spot starter Chris Mears and the bullpen did just that, shutting out Ottawa on six hits as Toledo claimed a 3-0 victory at Fifth Third Field.
“We could not have drawn it up any better,” manager Larry Parrish said of the Hens third straight win and fifth in a row at home. “We knew going in we were going to have to use a lot of guys from the bullpen to make it through the game. Mears gave us everything we could have hoped for today.”
Making his first start of the season, the right-handed Mears allowed just two hits in the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. With one out he gave up back-to-back singles before giving way to Jason Karnuth.
“I tried to throw strikes to keep the pitch count down and throw as many innings as I could,” said Mears, who threw 55 pitches in 41/3 innings. “In a situation like this you re not going to throw six or seven innings, but the pitch count was down so I was pleased with the outing.”
Karnuth got out of the jam thanks to a pair of fine defensive plays. Third baseman Brant Ust made a diving stop of Clay Bellinger s hard grounder and threw Bellinger out at first. And after a walk loaded the bases, shortstop Danny Klassen ranged behind second to stop a Joey Hammond grounder and get an inning-ending force.
“We ve been playing well defensively,” Parrish said. “Ust made a couple of nice plays today, but a guy that s really been playing well is Klassen at shortstop. He s struggling with his hitting, and that s tough to do - be struggling in one part of the game, but putting it behind you and making the plays defensively.”
Karnuth got the win after retiring the Lynx in order in the sixth, and David Cortes pitched a scoreless seventh. In the eighth Matt Anderson allowed two runners to reach base with one out before striking out Chad Mottola and getting Robert Machado to ground into a fielder s choice.
Franklyn German earned the save with a scoreless ninth as the Toledo bullpen allowed just two hits in 42/3 innings.
Meanwhile the Toledo offense, which had produced 27 hits and 17 runs in beating the Lynx the previous two days, managed only eight hits and two earned runs.
“Offense comes in ebbs and flows,” said Ust, who also had two hits and two RBIs.
The Hens broke on top with a first-inning run off Ottawa starter Sean Bergman. After a walk to Nook Logan and a single by Eric Owens, Marcus Thames hit what looked to be a sure double-play grounder back to Bergman. But the former Hen threw wildly to second, allowing Logan to score and leaving two runners on.
Bergman walked Joe Vitiello to load the bases but then got Andy Barkett on an infield fly and Mike DiFelice on a double-play grounder.
In the second it was more of the same - a run scored, but an opportunity wasted as well. Warren Morris led off with a single, then raced around to score on a double by Ust. But Ust was stranded at second as Bergman retired the next three.
Ust also plated the Hens final run of the day with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth. Tim Raines Jr. dropped Ust s fly to keep the bases loaded, but a double-play grounder by Klassen ended the threat.
NOTES: Catcher Guillermo Rodriguez will be put on the seven-day disabled list today after pulling an oblique muscle Monday. Brandon Harper will be promoted from Double-A Erie today to replace Rodriguez. ... Parrish said it might be as long as a week before pitcher Jimmy Haynes is activated. The right-hander, signed by Detroit to a minor-league contract Tuesday after being waived by Cincinnati, needs to build up arm strength after pitching just 51/3 innings since April 19.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.