Carlos Pena had a tough nine innings yesterday.
The Mud Hens first baseman made an error in the first inning that led to a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre run. He struck out with the bases loaded in the third. And he flew out to center in the eighth with the potential game-winning run on base.
"I was having a tough day," Pena said. "I was swinging at some pitches out of the zone. Then I hit a couple of pitches on the barrel and popped it up. Then I almost hit a home run.
"But I never lost my aggressiveness. I had in my mind to bear down and get a good pitch to hit."
Pena's attitude paid off for him and the Hens in the 10th inning. He singled into the right-center gap to score Curtis Granderson and lift Toledo to a 7-6 victory over the Red Barons.
The win, the Mud Hens' third in a row, the second straight in extra innings and 13th in the last 15 games, was far from picture-perfect. The mistake-filled game featured two errors by each side, 13 walks, three hit-batsmen and two passed balls - not to mention a gaffe by Toledo manager Larry Parrish that cost his team a run.
"I think you're just happy when you win it," Parrish said of the sloppy game. "At crucial times they got some hits that squeaked through that hurt us. But to me, [this game] was typical of this club. They've done it all year; they get behind 6-4 in the eighth, they come back to tie it, then win it in extra innings."
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre built early leads of 2-1 and 4-1, then scored twice in the eighth to build a 6-4 advantage. But Toledo found a way to come back from each deficit, something the Hens have become quite adept at this season.
"It has a lot to do with the attitude of guys," Parrish said of his team's ability to come back. "And once you do it a few times, you get on a roll. You feel like you can do it again."
The two runs the Red Barons scored in the eighth came largely thanks to Mud Hens miscues that did not show up in the box score.
Reliever John Ennis hit Jim Rushford with an 0-2 pitch to start the frame, and Juan Sosa followed with a beautiful bunt single down the first-base line that moved Rushford to second. Jorge Padilla then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Ennis and third baseman Mike Hessman nearly collided and all three runners were safe.
Ennis nearly escaped the jam by striking out A.J. Hinch, getting Shane Victorino to bounce into a force at home, then getting ahead of Anthony Medrano 0-2. But Medrano's slow roller to short just dribbled off Don Kelly's glove for a two-run single.
The Hens bounced off the mat to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. Kelly singled off Red Barons reliever Erick Burke, then moved to second when Dewayne Wise walked. Both runners advanced on a passed ball before Burke loaded the bases by walking Brandon Harper.
Granderson then stroked a game-tying, two-run double into the right-center gap.
Hens reliever Steve Green held the Red Barons off the board in the ninth and 10th innings. He was the game's only pitcher not to walk a batter or give up a run.
"What I was trying to do is give the bats back to our offense," Green said. "I was trying to get a quick inning so we could get back [to the dugout] and build momentum."
Green's work set the stage for Pena, who was 0-for-5 heading into his 10th-inning at-bat and was in danger of seeing a 13-game hitting streak end. But Pena said his goal was to take a positive, aggressive attitude into that at-bat.
"It's the hardest thing in the world," he said. "You start being afraid of making an out, or being afraid of swinging at a bad pitch. You have to battle that feeling inside and stop trying not to fail. I tried to keep being aggressive, and it was great to see it pay off."
Pena's hit wiped away all the errors, miscues and misplays the Mud Hens made yesterday.
"When you win, you forget about it," Parrish said. "You sweep it under the rug, and you show up again the next day."
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