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Published: Tuesday, 7/28/2009

Hens' offense, defense falter

Mud Hens third baseman Mike Hessman fields a grounder against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Monday at Fifth Third Field. Mud Hens third baseman Mike Hessman fields a grounder against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Monday at Fifth Third Field.

There's only one appropriate word for the Mud Hens' 4-0 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Monday: stinker.

Toledo struggled on offense, producing just six hits in a game where the Yankees were short of pitching. Hens starter Brooks Brown labored through six innings, facing trouble nearly all day long.

And the defense? The three errors Toledo committed tell the story.

"We had been grinding for the past few days, and when we tried to get something going here, we couldn't," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "With the quick turnaround, we never got any momentum going."

The Yankees scratched out a run in the first inning. Kevin Russo opened the game with a double, and Ramiro Pena bunted in an attempt to move Russo to third. Catcher Max St-Pierre tried to throw out Russo at third, but his toss sailed into left, allowing Russo to trot home.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre added a run in the third as Russo was hit by a pitch, took third on Pena's double into the right-field corner, then came home on Juan Miranda's sacrifice fly.

Russo led off for the third time in the game when he came to the plate in the fifth, and he again got on base to spark a Yankee rally. Russo doubled for the second time, took third on a sacrifice by Pena, and scored on Austin Jackson's double off the left-field wall.

"I thought Brown really battled," Parrish said. "He didn't have command; he left the ball up and they whacked it for doubles.

"To only give up what he did was pretty good, especially when you consider what he could have given up. He was constantly in trouble, but he gave us six innings when he could have only given us three."

The Yankees added a run in the sixth when, with two on and two outs, Pena lined a ball into the gap in left-center that leftfielder Wilkin Ramirez struggled to track.

It fell for a double that allowed Chris Stewart to score.

"We did not play very well defensively," Parrish said. "We had errors on plays where there was no reason for us to make an error.

"And there were times where we didn't get an error, but we should have made the play."

Meanwhile the Toledo bats, just 12 hours removed from a 10-run outburst, slumbered against the Yankees' Zach Kroenke, who was making his first start this year. Kroenke covered a season-high four innings and shut out the Mud Hens on just four hits; twice he allowed leadoff singles - to Will Rhymes in the first and Ramirez in the fourth - and in both cases Kroenke picked the runners off base.

The only "rally" the Hens mounted came in the fourth. Don Kelly walked after Ramirez was picked off, and Kelly moved to second on a two-out single by Mike Hessman.

But Kroenke got Jeff Frazier to ground out in Toledo's only at-bat with a runner in scoring position.

Reliever Eric Wordekemper came on in the fifth and added four more shutout innings, retiring all but one of the 12 batters he faced. Brent Dlugach singled to lead off the seventh, but Wordekemper got Hessman to foul out and Pena made a diving stop on Frazier's hard grounder to shortstop to start an inning-ending double play.

Kevin Whelan retired the Hens in the ninth to complete the shutout.

NOTES: After the game the Mud Hens sent LHP Kris Regas to Double-A Erie. That will create an opening on the roster for RHP Eddie Bonine, who is scheduled to start tomorrow. Long-time broadcaster Frank Gilhooley joined Jim Weber, Bill Clark, and Jason Griffin on the radio broadcast of yesterday's game.

FRAZIER HONORED: Mud Hens outfielder Jeff Frazier was named International League player of the week.

Frazier hit .545 in nine games for the Hens, belting three doubles and five home runs among his 18 hits. He had 12 RBIs while scoring 10 runs.

He is hitting .285 this season.

Contact John Wagner at:


or 419-724-6481.

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