NORFOLK, Va. - The Toledo Mud Hens went old school to beat the Norfolk Tides yesterday afternoon, pulling off a "butcher ball" play in the ninth inning to win 4-3 at Harbor Park.
With runners at second and third and no outs, Toledo's Dane Sardinha squared to bunt, only to pull the bat back and slap a single through a vacated shortstop spot, driving in Erick Almonte with what would be the winning run.
Almonte reached on an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by David Espinosa, who reached first safely when Norfolk's Eider Torres dropped the throw to first from Tides pitcher Francis Beltran.
At that point, the Tides held a lengthy meeting on the mound to discuss defensive strategy. The mound meeting dragged on long enough for Sardinha to ask the Mud Hens coaching staff what he should do if the Tides "ran the wheel play" and had their shortstop cover third to defuse a sacrifice bunt attempt.
Sardinha was told to swing away if that happened.
"I haven't ever done that," Sardinha said, "and I haven't even practiced doing it since I was a kid."
Would he do it again?
"I don't know," he grinned. "They might have me scouted for that play now."
Toledo manager Mike Rojas pointed out that it's a skill set that teams go over during spring training.
"You're always stopping when teaching the defensive coverage of a wheel play and looking at your guys and saying, 'but if you're at the plate, be ready to hit when everybody starts moving,'•" Rojas said. "Still, only the guys who are really good bunters ever practice doing it."
Almonte scoring the winning run erased what had been to that point a tough day for the shortstop. In the second inning, Almonte reached up to snag a line drive off the bat of Norfolk's Jason Dubois, only to have the ball rip the pocket out of his glove. Later in the inning, he fell while attempting to catch a pop-up in shallow left field by Val Majewski, landing on his backside and dropping the ball. It was scored a wind-blown base hit.
Almonte and Sardinha were the only Mud Hens with multi-hit games.
The Tides scored all of their runs on a bases-clearing double to left by Adam Stern in the fifth inning which knotted the score.
Toledo (71-53) struck twice in the third inning with Andres Torres delivering an RBI triple and Timo Perez dribbling a swinging bunt later in the inning to score Torres.
In the fourth inning, Espinosa rapped a run-scoring double as Mike Hessman legged it around from first base to beat a throw to the plate.
Macay McBride, just down from Detroit, pitched three scoreless innings of relief to earn the win, and Jose Cappellan earned his second save of the season with a perfect ninth.
Toledo heads for Richmond tonight. LHP Andrew Miller (no record) will square off with Braves RHP Trey Hodges (5-4, 3.94).
The Detroit Tigers have traded Mud Hens infielder Jack Hannahan to Oakland for minor-league outfielder Jason Perry, who was with the Athletics' Triple-A team in Sacramento.
Hannahan hit .295 in 101 games this season for the Mud Hens with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs, both single-season highs. Hannahan's .422 on-base percentage was tops in the International League.
A third-round draft pick of the Tigers in 2001, he played on the Hens' back-to-back Governors' Cup championship teams, batting .269 (4 HRs, 28 RBIs) in 68 games in 2005 before hitting .282 (9 HR, 62 RBIs) last season.
Perry is a left-handed hitting outfielder who will turn 27 on Saturday. He began the season with Double-A Midland in the Texas League, batting .256 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 21 games.
He was promoted to the Pacific Coast League in early May and played in 78 games for Sacramento. Perry batted .268 with a team-leading 18 home runs and 58 RBIs with the RiverCats.
Hannahan is expected to be added to Oakland's roster as a possible replacement for third baseman Eric Chavez, who has been sidelined since July 27 with lower back spasms. Perry should join the Mud Hens when the team plays in Richmond today.36.84682 -76.28507
The Toledo Mud Hens went old school to beat the Norfolk Tides yesterday afternoon, pulling off a "butcher ball" play in the ninth inning to win 4-3 at Harbor Park.