The raw numbers seem impressive: Toledo scored nine runs and banged out 13 hits in beating Ottawa 9-4 at Fifth Third Field last night.
But that offensive outburst got much of its fuel from three straight bunts in a critical fifth-inning rally. That rally produced a pair of runs and helped jump-start a stagnant offense that was shut out on one hit over 10 innings the previous night.
"Our short game was working, " said Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish, drawing upon his golf expertise for an appropriate analogy. "We made a lot of chip shots and we made a lot of putts."
David Espinosa led off the fifth with a double down the left-field line, and he moved to third when Victor Mendez beat out a bunt single past the pitcher's mound.
Max St-Pierre then laid down a bunt down the first-base line that allowed Espinosa to score, and Mendez beat Ottawa catcher Eli Whiteside's throw to second to leave runners on first and second.
Tike Redman followed with Toledo's third straight bunt, a beauty down the third-base line that left the bases loaded for Kevin Hooper, who hit a sacrifice fly to left.
"We executed pretty well right there," Parrish said. "We've had trouble scoring, but everything we did that inning worked. It ended on a bad note, because we could have had more, but [the next inning] we put together some good at-bats to get things going and score four."
The "bad note" came when Ryan Ludwick lined an apparent double off the left-field wall, but third-base umpire R.J. Thompson ruled Lynx left fielder Majewski had caught the ball.
It appeared that miscall would hurt the Hens when Ottawa's Luis Terrero led off the sixth with a game-tying homer, his fifth home run of the year.
But the Hens broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jack Hannahan led off with a walk and moved to second on Mike Hessman's single. Espinosa then beat out a slow roller to second, and Ottawa's Eddy Garabito threw wildly to first to give Hannahan a chance to trot home.
Mendez doubled down the left-field line to plate Hessman, and St-Pierre lined a two-run single to right over the drawn-in infield.
"The big hit in the game, for me, was the single by St-Pierre," Ottawa manager Dave Trembley said.
Steve Green (1-1) threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to claim the victory, with Chris Spurling getting the final four outs to claim his third save.
NOTES: The Hens gave LHP Alex Herrera (1-1, 5.06 ERA) his unconditional release.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.
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