Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Mud Hens

Mud Hens notebook: Sweet's heart with the Hens

Nobody likes to be sitting in the losers' dugout when a victory celebration breaks out on the field.

The Mud Hens and their fans partied in impressive fashion Saturday night after a 10-2 victory over Louisville clinched an International League playoff berth.

But at least one person in the Louisville dugout was able to find it at least mildly enjoyable.

"It's never a lot of fun watching the other team celebrate," Bats manager Rick Sweet said yesterday. "But, from my standpoint, if it couldn't be us then I was happy Toledo was the one celebrating."

Sweet spent last season as manager at Erie, the Detroit organization's Double-A team, where a team featuring eight of the 2005 Hens made the Eastern League playoffs.

Pitchers Kenny Baugh, Jason Karnuth and Mark Woodyard, catcher Brandon Harper, infielders Jack Hannahan, Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn, and outfielder Curtis Granderson (now with Detroit) all spent time with Erie last season.

"Knowing they're good people and good guys made it a little more enjoyable to watch," Sweet said. "Plus, I still have a good feeling for the Detroit organization and I know that L.P., Jonesie and Bull are super guys who really work hard."

He was referring to Hens manager Larry Parrish, pitching coach Jeff Jones and hitting coach Leon Durham.

"All those players deserved to be in Toledo this year," said Sweet, who is in his 17th year as a minor league manager. "Last season set them up and prepared them for this level. And Toledo's staff took over and continued the process.

"The team I had last year in Erie was one of the most enjoyable I've ever had, so yeah, it was sort of fun to watch those guys celebrate a great season here."

WHY WAIT? There was some discussion, but no hesitation in staging Saturday night's celebration, even though the Hens figure to be just a day or two away from claiming the IL West Division pennant.

"I talked about that a while back with the front office," Parrish said. "Did we want to do it now, or see if we win the division title and hold off until then?

"My decision was that these guys had worked hard and played hard to get into the post-season. What if we waited until winning the division and then didn't win it? We'd be going into the playoffs with no celebration.

"I thought these guys deserved a night of letting it all hang out. And it turned out we couldn't have scripted it better. We were at home, it was a sellout and it was a Saturday night."

THREE-DOT DATA: A poor base-running decision by Alexis Gomez cost the Hens in the fifth with runners on first and second and two outs. A low pitch to Gookie Dawkins squirted away from Louisville catcher Steve Lomasney, but just by a matter of inches, and he was able to retrieve the ball and gun down Gomez at third to end the threat. ... Toledo's Harper was ejected in the bottom of the eighth about two seconds after beginning to argue his being called out at first by umpire Chad Fairchild. Louisville first baseman A.J. Zapp's foot appeared to be off the base after stretching for a slightly errant throw. The Hens close out this homestand tonight at 7 as Baugh (11-8, 3.46 ERA) takes the mound against Louisville's Ben Kozlowski (2-2, 4.00). Toledo then goes on the road for three games at Indianapolis and two in Columbus before returning to Fifth Third Field to close out the regular season against Indy on Sept. 4-5.

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