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Published: Monday, 4/25/2005

Pop-up leads to defeat for Hens

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS - The Mud Hens lost to Indianapolis 7-1 yesterday, and the game's "big" hit landed only 20 feet from home plate.

Cesar Crespo's pop-up with two outs and two on in the third started foul, but ended up fair thanks to the high winds at Victory Field. It dropped just inside the third-base line for an RBI single and opened the door for a five-run Indians uprising that essentially decided the contest.

There was plenty of blame to be spread around for that inning, which began when Toledo starter Jason Grilli walked eighth batter Jorge Velandia on four pitches. The next batter, Rich Thompson, hit a comebacker to the mound, but was too fast to double up.

So with two outs and Thompson on first, Grilli then hit Chris Duffy with a 2-2 pitch before seemingly escaping trouble with Crespo's pop-up in foul territory towards third base. But the wind, which whipped at 25 miles per hour or more all day, pushed the ball back into fair territory.

The pop-up eluded Hens catcher Brandon Harper and fell just four feet into fair territory for a single that scored Thompson and sent Duffy to third.

"I just misplayed it," Harper said of the pop-up. "I had been lucky earlier in the game when I caught one because I overran it."

Parrish said the misplay of that pop-up wasn't entirely Harper's fault.

"We had some young guys out there today that weren't being aggressive," Parrish said. "You've got to want that ball. That's not the catcher's ball right there."

The next two batters, Nate McLouth and Graham Koonce, made the Mud Hens pay for their mistake.

McLouth lifted a ball into that jetstream that didn't fall until it hit high off the padding of the right-field fence for a two-run triple. Koonce did McLouth one better, using that same wind to hammer his fourth home run of the season.

"The pitcher had to pitch longer into the innings, and he didn't make some pitches after that," Parrish said. "I think he let it affect his performance out there too."

Grilli also was stung by his own throwing error on a tough grounder down the third-base side by Duffy leading off the fifth. That error led to two more unearned runs.

"I just tried to make my pitches to try and get the out and get out of the situation," Grilli said. "I can't undo what's done, all I can do is try to get outs."

Those two scoring outbursts were more than enough for Indianapolis pitching, which limited Toledo to just six hits. The Hens' lone run scored when Harper drilled a long home run to left field for his second home run in as many games.

Toledo had plenty of other opportunities to score, thanks to four walks and four hit batsmen, but instead left at least one runner on base in every inning but the seventh and stranded 12 runners in the game.

The Mud Hens were 0-for-12 when batting with runners in scoring position, striking out in five of those plate appearances.

"It was a poor offensive performance today by us," Parrish said. "Their guy was not sharp; he was throwing 86 [miles per hour] belt-high, and his change-up was belt-high. You don't get many opportunities to hit off that, so you'd better take advantage."

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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