The Mud Hens scored six runs in the first inning yesterday. And, believe it or not, manager Larry Parrish was worried.
"I was worried by around the fourth inning," Parrish admitted. "I didn't like the way things were going. Then when they scored those four runs, I thought, 'We could lose this game.' But we were able to hold them off."
The Hens eventually claimed an 8-4 victory over Rochester, giving them three wins in four games against the Red Wings. Toledo has won six of its last seven at home as well as 10 of 12 overall.
The six-run explosion began after Hens leadoff man Michael Hollimon fell behind Rochester starter Brian Duensing 0-2. He eventually walked. One out later Duensing got wild, walking Mike Hessman on four pitches, then hitting Jeff Larish with a pitch to load the bases.
Brent Clevlen promptly unloaded them with a three-run double to the wall in deep center field.
"After walking Hollimon, [Duensing] started pitching guys carefully," Parrish said. "Then Clevlen hit the ball, and that got things rolling."
Joyce followed Clevlen's hit by grounding an 0-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single. Erick Almonte singled, and Jackson Melian walked to reload the
bases. Nick Trzesniak followed with a two-run single.
Duensing settled down after Trzesniak's hit, retiring 14 of the next 15 Mud Hens he faced before giving up a two-out double to Almonte in the sixth.
"You'll see it happen a lot that a team, instead of saying, 'Hey, we're going to blow them out and score 15,' says, '[Eddie] Bonine has been pitching well, and we've got enough runs already,'•" Parrish explained. "Then the team goes flat."
That early offense seemed as if it would be more than enough for Bonine, who allowed just one baserunner through the first four innings - and Randy Ruiz, who reached on a second-inning error, promptly was erased on a double play.
"I didn't feel like I had my best stuff," said Bonine, who became the International League's first six-game winner. "I was able to get some ground balls, and some hard-hit balls were hit right at people.
"I don't have the stuff to throw a no-hitter, so I just tried to get them to hit balls at people."
Bonine has pitched well, posting a 3.43 ERA in his six starts. But he also knows he has benefited from the 44 runs his offense has scored in those games.
"[Getting a lot of runs] allows you to go out there, get comfortable right away, and get into the feel of the game," Bonine said. "These guys have been swinging the bats well all season for everybody, and that makes it a fun team to play for."
The Hens right-hander got the first two outs of the fifth before Garrett Jones broke up the no-hit bid with an opposite-field home run to left.
The Red Wings got three runs in the sixth, with two coming on a home run by Ryan Jorgensen and the other scoring on a single by Darnell McDonald.
But Bonine and the Mud Hens' bullpen - Ian Ostlund, Preston Larrison, and Blaine Neal - held the Wings in check the rest of the way. The three relievers combined to allow just two hits in the final two innings, with Neal coming on to get the final out and claim his league-leading 11th save of the season.
The Hens made things easier on the bullpen with insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth. In the seventh, Larish made a couple of two-out walks pay off with a seeing-eye RBI single between first and second.
The next inning, Joyce walked, stole second, then came home on a two-out single by
"Those two runs gave us a cushion," Parrish said. "It allowed Preston to go back out there and start the ninth. Bringing Neal in to face only one hitter and getting the save [was good] because he didn't throw a lot of pitches."
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