The Mud Hens' 9-6 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field Monday night wasn't exactly a laugher.
But it certainly was a "smiler," and the smiles were big because the struggling Hens offense came to life. Toledo pounded out 12 hits, five of which went for extra bases, to win for just the second time in the last eight games.
"It really felt good to get some hits, score some runs," said first baseman Don Kelly said. "We also got some good pitching, but we really got some timely hitting."
The Mud Hens, who have struggled to take advantage of early inning scoring opportunities in this homestand, saw Jason Tyner lead off with a triple to deep right.
Instead of stranding Tyner at third, though, Kelly promptly singled to center to drive him home.
"We had a hitter's meeting [Sunday], and we talked about our approach in those situations," Kelly said. "You're supposed to try and stay in the big part of the field, and not change your overall approach."
Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said Kelly's hit gave his team a lift.
"When one person comes through, sometimes you say, 'Ah, he did it, and the monkey's off my back, too,'•" Parrish said.
Columbus bunched together three doubles to score twice in the second off Hens starter Eddie Bonine, making his first appearance since his demotion from Detroit this past weekend.
But Toledo broke the game open in the bottom of the third, sending 10 hitters to the plate and scoring five times thanks to four hits, a walk, two Clipper errors and a passed ball.
"I thought we had a lot better approach [at the plate]," said Clete
Thomas, who finished the night with his first home run of the season to go with a pair of doubles.
"We've been scuffling with runners in scoring position - I think we've been trying to do too much. If we just put the bat on the ball, use the same approach as we do when there's no one on, I think we'll be OK."
The Hens added two runs in the fifth - thanks largely to a pair of wild pitches by Columbus starter Kirk Saarloos - and Thomas capped the scoring with his solo homer to center in the seventh.
That was more than enough thanks to the effort by Ron Chiavacci, who came in after Bonine had thrown 55 pitches in three innings. Chiavacci retired 12 of the first 13 Clippers he faced before Stephen Head led off the eighth with a home run to deep center.
"Bonine looked rusty to me," Parrish said. "After we scored, they came back with two runs and you started to wonder what would happen. But Bonine got them out in the third, and Chiavacci came in and held them as we tacked on [runs]."
Columbus started to close the gap thanks to a second run off Chiavacci in the eighth, while Michael Aubrey's two-run homer in the ninth off Matt Rusch cut the lead to three.
But the Clippers came no closer, and Parrish said the late runs took none of the luster off the victory. He said, "There were a lot of things to feel good about - like winning."
NOTES: C Max St-Pierre joined the team before yesterday's game. He was promoted from Double-A Erie, where he hit .200 with a homer and two RBIs in four games. OF Wilkin Ramirez was back in the lineup yesterday after missing three games with a thumb injury.
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The Mud Hens' 9-6 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field Monday night wasn't exactly a laugher. But it certainly was a "smiler," and the smiles were big because the struggling Hens offense came to life. Toledo pounded out 12 hits, five of which went for extra bases, to win for just the second time in the last eight games.