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Published: Wednesday, 9/1/2004

Mud Hens finish August with one more close loss

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

INDIANAPOLIS - The Toledo Mud Hens' last game of August 2004 was a microcosm of the entire month.

The Hens got a great outing from starter James Baldwin and out-hit the Indianapolis Indians 8-4, but fell on the scoreboard 3-2.

Toledo had runners at first and third in the ninth, but couldn't push a run across in losing its twelfth game to Indianapolis against four victories.

"Same thing," said manager Larry Parrish. "It's been like that the whole month."

While Baldwin was handcuffing the Indians on a collection of off-speed pitches, the Hens were getting the occasional hit but failed to put a big inning together. In the fifth Greg Norton led off with a single and then scored on a two-out hit from Eric Owens.

But after that, Toledo managed only a single base-runner until the ninth - and he was picked off.

Outfielder Chad Alexander crushed the ball twice, but both times Jon Nunnally made catches at the left-field fence.

In the ninth Alexander got a measure of revenge when he singled home Warren Morris on a soft liner to left to cut the lead to one, but the Hens could get no closer.

"This has been the craziest August I've ever been a part of," Alexander said. "And this is my 10th year.

"I hit the ball hard twice and make outs, then I hit the ball soft and get a hit."

Baldwin held the Indians until the eighth inning, relying more on guile than velocity. The Victory Field radar gun reported virtually all of his pitches at less than 90 mph.

"He knows how to pitch," said pitching coach Jeff Jones. "He pitched ahead, and he moves the ball in and out."

"His slider is just a little bit off [his fastball]," said Parrish. "So it's like a cutter, and then he mixes in his curveball and changeup in and out and up and down.

"He did a whale of a job."

"It's past the point of getting down," said Alexander. "We just have to come out and play hard every day."

The Hens' road trip continues with a two-game set at Columbus beginning tomorrow. Scheduled starters are Pat Ahearne (9-11, 408 ERA) for the Hens and Brad Halsey (10-4, 2.74) for the Clippers.



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