LOUISVILLE - A knuckleball pitcher turned out to be just what the struggling Mud Hens' offense needed to break out of its recent slump.
That's right, it took a knuckleball - often called a "butterfly with hiccups," a pitch that's supposed to throw off a hitter's timing and make things worse instead of better - for Toledo to escape its recent hitting woes.
Last night the Toledo offense broke out for 18 hits, including 12 against knuckleballer Jared Fernandez, in a 14-1 win over Louisville at Slugger Field.
The Hens' run and hit totals were both season highs, not to mention a far cry from the team's recent offensive woes. Toledo had scored two or fewer runs in four of its previous five games and collected a measly nine hits in the team's last two contests.
"We talked to our guys today about being aggressive," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "When a guy throws you a good knuckleball, you ain't going to hit it, anyway. So be aggressive, and when he throws you a bad one you should whack it."
Ramon Martinez, who joined the Hens yesterday on a rehab assignment from the parent Tigers, set the team's modern-day record for hits in a game by going 6-for-6 with six singles.
"We had a meeting before the game, and [hitting coach Leon] 'Bull' [Durham] talked about not trying to do too much," Martinez said. "He talked about just going out and having fun; if we have fun, good things are going to happen."
The good things began to happen in the third inning when the Hens used four hits, two walks, two passed balls and a wild pitch to accumulate five runs off Fernandez (1-3).
Toledo added a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Chris Shelton, scored a run in the sixth and then broke the game open with three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth. Those ninth-inning runs came against Bats' infielder Alex Pelaez, who was called on to pitch to help save the Louisville bullpen.
That outburst was more than enough for Toledo starter Sean Douglass, who gave up a run in the first but then settled down to earn his third victory of the season without a loss.
Douglass gave up just five hits and a pair of walks while striking out six in seven innings; after the second inning he gave up just three hits.
"The first two innings I left some balls up [in the strike zone], and they were hit hard," Douglass said. "I wasn't getting the ball down and finishing pitches, but fortunately the balls were hit at our guys.
"From there on I was back where I wanted to be."
NOTES: Curtis Granderson missed his second straight contest after being hit on the hand by a pitch against Indianapolis on Sunday. Parrish said Granderson was able to throw the ball yesterday but wasn't able to swing a bat. His status remains day-to-day.
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