Toledo's Anastacio Martinez smiles as he dries off. He was later sent to Erie to make room on the roster for Aquilino Lopez.
Heads bobbed and shoulders swayed to rapper Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day" yesterday afternoon inside the Mud Hens' clubhouse.
From a scoreboard perspective, indeed it was, as Toledo began the second half of the 2008 season with a 5-4 victory over Syracuse.
But the subplots involved made yesterday's matinee win bittersweet for some, starting with pitcher Anastacio Martinez.
Martinez, making his second spot start for the Hens' depleted rotation, allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings to record his first victory this season. After the game, he was sent to Double-A Erie to make room for Aquilino Lopez.
There could be more where that came from. The rehab assignments of Joel Zumaya and Clete Thomas are over, and when they rejoin the Tigers (likely Friday in San Diego), the Hens will have to drop two more players if Detroit options two to Toledo.
So a good day? Not exactly.
"There's always somebody who's not going good, or you're going to make a move. It's always something," said Toledo manager Larry Parrish, who served the second game of a four-game suspension yesterday.
Martinez was moved from Toledo's bullpen to its rotation to make an emergency spot start June 12 when it was clear the Tigers were going to call up Eddie Bonine. He gave up a run in 32/3 innings that night, and was solid yesterday in what was easily his longest outing this year.
Martinez, understandably so, was upset over the move, and fired toiletries into trash cans while cleaning out his locker.
"There's nothing I can do," Martinez said. "That's baseball. This is what happens sometimes."
Parrish acknowledged demoting Martinez was hard to swallow, and likened it to what happened to Lopez. Lopez was sent to the Hens to clear space for Fernando Rodney despite pitching well for the Tigers.
Jerry Bowie, Hazel Ruby, and Rita McCullew, from left, residents of Arbors at Toledo on Cherry Street, are decked out in appropriate headgear as they watch the Mud Hens take on the Syracuse Chiefs during Senior Day at Fifth Third Field downtown.
Lopez has yet to report to Toledo, but is expected to be with the Hens on an eight-game road trip that begins tomorrow.
"Lopez had a beef about getting sent here, but somebody had to go," Parrish said. "With Martinez, it's the same way."
Parrish didn't disclose that Thomas was rejoining the Tigers, but it became apparent when numerous Hens teammates were congratulating him in the clubhouse following yesterday's game.
Thomas (sprained right ankle) went 0-for-5 yesterday with three strikeouts, and finished his rehab assignment 4-for-19. He confirmed he was leaving the Hens for the West Coast.
"Everything's feeling good, so I'm ready," Thomas said.
Zumaya learned his rehab assignment was over before the game and didn't pitch yesterday.
The Hens opened the second half of the season in the same spot where they began the year - tied for first in the International League West. That's where they are today - knotted atop the division with Louisville - after collecting their first back-to-back wins since June 2-3.
Fernando Seguignol, who opened the season in the Mexican League and debuted with Toledo June 12, was 2-for-2 with two walks, an RBI double, his first Toledo homer, and two runs scored.
The Hens held onto this one in part because of Seguignol's solo shot, but also thanks to a successful relay throw from second baseman Erick Almonte to catcher Nick Trzesniak to get Kevin Melillo at home with two outs in the eighth.
Toledo's Blaine Neal pitched around two infield singles in the ninth for his league-leading 20th save.
Jackson Melian had two hits, including a two-run single, and Freddy Guzman had two hits and reached base four times.
A good day for all of those Hens, to be sure.
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