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Published: Monday, 7/28/2008

Hens lose fifth out of 6

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Hens pitcher Virgil Vasquez shows his frustration after giving up a home run. He allowed four homers and six runs in 21/3 innings. Hens pitcher Virgil Vasquez shows his frustration after giving up a home run. He allowed four homers and six runs in 21/3 innings.
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

There were a lot of what ifs attached to the Mud Hens 8-5 loss to Pawtucket at Fifth Third Field last night.

What if Dane Sardinha s two-out double in the seventh were hit about three feet higher? It would have scored two more runs.

What if Brent Clevlen s double-play grounder in the eighth had been a base hit? It did score a run, but it could have helped the Hens score more than one run and rally for a victory instead of suffering the team s fifth loss in the last six games.

That s a lot of ifs, Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. There are ifs, but we had chances to get back in it, and we didn t.

The biggest what if of the night centered on Toledo starter Virgil Vasquez. Unfortunately, the what if was, What if he had pitched better? as the right-hander, who won 12 games last season, struggled for the third straight start.

Vasquez gave up a homer to Brandon Moss in the first, a homer to George Kottaras in thesecond, and back-to-back homers by Moss and Chris Carter in the third. The Red Sox batted around in the third.

Vasquez finished with a line of eight hits and six runs allowed in 21/3 innings. In his last three starts he has yet to pitch out of the fourth, giving up 24 hits and 18 runs in 91/3 innings.

It looked as if he had no confidence out there at all, Parrish said of Vasquez. He was sort of slump-shouldered in the first. It looks like he s beat-up mentally right now.

But the Mud Hens found a way to make things interesting. Pawtucket scored a run in the seventh on a Gil Velazquez sacrifice fly to make the score 8-2 before a Hessman homer and a run-scoring double by Sardinha a fan reached out over the fence in left to catch the ball, making it look like a home run, and the umpires ruled that Erick

Almonte had to return to third instead of scoring cut the deficit to 8-4.

I thought the sacrifice fly Gil Velazquez got in the seventh, for our eighth run, was huge because it added to our cushion, Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said. I know what s in [Toledo s] dugout they re a hit, a walk and a bomb away from getting three runs.

And the ball that Sardinha hit turned out to be huge [because it cost them at least one run].

Toledo got another run in the eighth, but a three-hit rally was blunted by a double play by Clevlen that scored the only run of the inning.

The only positive what if for the Hens was, What if the bullpen hadn t pitched well? Jeremy Johnson was solid in four innings of long relief, while Brian Rogers came on with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh and gave up only one run before Clay Rapada pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

J.J., Rogers and Rapada kept us close, Parrish said. If we could have gotten to 8-7, who knows? But that s another if .

NOTES: Timo Perez singled in the eighth to extend his current hit streak to nine games. With last night s loss the Hens are 10-14 in July. Unless Toledo wins its final four games this month, the Hens will finish with their first losing record for a month since April, 2007. Last night s crowd of 10,850 was the Mud Hens 22nd sellout this season.

Contact John Wagner at:jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.



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