Twice last night the Mud Hens found themselves in need of a comeback.
But Toledo had on hand the two ingredients needed to bounce back from adversity, and that helped them post an 8-7 win over Columbus at Fifth Third Field.
What are the two key ingredients for a comeback? Quality hitting and good work from the bullpen, and the Hens got both last night to rally from 3-0 and 7-4 deficits.
Offensively, when we get down two or three, we re not throwing in the towel, Mike Hessman said. We re putting some good at-bats together, and we re getting some key hits to help us come back.
And the bullpen did a great job of shutting them down when we got behind.
Neither team had a hit until the third, when the teams combined for seven runs. Columbus scored three on a two-out, three-run homer by Josh Barfield off Hens starter Scot Drucker.
But Toledo came back with four runs in the bottom of the inning thanks in large part to an RBI double by Scott Sizemore and Hessman s 19th home run of the season.
It only took four batters for the Clippers to retake the lead in the top of the fourth. Damaso Espino lined a two-run, bases-loaded double that ended Drucker s night. Matt Rusch came on in relief and got out of the inning, but not before a groundout and a sacrifice fly brought home two more runs.
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Anytime you come in with runners on base, you re trying to get as many outs as possible with as few runs as possible scoring, Rusch said. They did a good job of putting the ball in play to get a couple of runs, but I just tried to limit the damage.
Especially early in the game, it s important to keep your team in the game, to get them off the field as quickly as possible so they can hit and get those runs back.
That s what Rusch and the bullpen did. Rusch held the Clippers scoreless for the next two innings, Zach Simons threw two scoreless frames, and Casey Fien shut the door in the ninth.
The bullpen finished with six innings of three-hit, shutout relief.
They did a nice job, Hens manager Larry Parrish said of the bullpen.
And the Hens did come back, scoring a run in the fifth on an RBI double by Hessman, then tying the contest with a pair of runs in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Dusty Ryan and Sizemore.
Toledo scored the eventual winning run in the bottom of the seventh when Jeff Larish and Jeff Frazier lined back-to-back singles with one out and Brent Clevlen lifted a high fly to deep center that allowed Larish to score from third.
That was a good game for us offensively, Parrish said. Was there one hit that stood out? In a one-run game, we need all of them.
What made the comeback sweeter was that it helped the Mud Hens reach the .500 mark for the first time since May 4.
To me, that says a lot about the character of this club we re still playing hard, Parrish said. One scout told me that he liked the energy level this team is playing at, and that says a lot about our character.
NOTES: The Toledo rotation continues to be in a state of flux. Left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis will make a rehab start for the Mud Hens when they begin a four-game series in Columbus tonight. Left-hander Nate Robertson will continue his rehab assignment by starting tomorrow. Right-hander Eddie Bonine, who was sent to the Hens yesterday when the Tigers activated Aubrey Huff, is expected to start Saturday against the Clippers.
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