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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2010

Patience pays off for Hens

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

If at first you don't succeed, what do you do?

For the Mud Hens last night, the answer was simple: try, try, and try again.

It took awhile, but Toledo finally managed to get enough outs and score enough runs to claim a 6-0 win over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.

The Hen offense collected 15 hits, but Toledo stranded 11 baserunners and scored only once in the first four innings. Meanwhile starter Ruddy Lugo tap-danced his way through five frames, leaning on a pair of double plays to claim his first win of the season.

"It took a while for us to open the gash," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We had a lot of opportunities out there to score runs.

"But we just kept plugging, and we kept pushing runs across to make it comfortable at the end."

Lugo escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the first on a line-drive double-play to the glove of Jeff Larish at first, then stranded a runner at third base in the second before pitching a 1-2-3 third. But the Hens' right-hander found more trouble in the fourth, giving up singles that put runners on first and third with one out.

Jonathan Van Every, who lofted a fly to shallow left that Ryan Strieby caught. He threw the ball to cutoff man Brent Dlugach, who faked a throw to second before firing to Danny Worth, who snuck in behind Brian Myrow at third and promptly tagged him out for a double play that ended the threat.

Indianapolis' Neil Walker makes it back safely to first base ahead of a throw to Toledo's Jeff Larish in the fifth inning. Indianapolis' Neil Walker makes it back safely to first base ahead of a throw to Toledo's Jeff Larish in the fifth inning.
JEREMY WADSWORTH / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

While Lugo allowed three hits and four walks in five innings, he also didn't allow a single hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"Those [double plays] are huge," said second baseman Will Rhymes. "We try to give Ruddy good defense because we know he's going to pitch to contact and the ball is going to be put in play."

Casey Fien relieved Lugo and threw three shutout innings to rest a bullpen that pitched 22 of the team's first 45 innings this season, and Robbie Weinhardt got three outs in the ninth to close the contest.

Meanwhile the Toledo offense struggled early. The first three Hens got hits to load the bases in the first, but a line-drive double play off the bat of Ryan Strieby threatened to end the rally before Larish lined a two-out RBI hit.

"That was a big hit - a 'pick-me-up' hit," Parrish said of the Larish single. "You know you didn't get a lot there despite having the bases loaded with none out, but at least you got something across."

Toledo finally got the offense rolling in the fifth when Rhymes singled, then raced to third on a wild pickoff throw by Bass before scoring on a single by Dlugach through a drawn-in infield. Dlugach came around to score when Brennan Boesch doubled off the wall in right.

"You have to go up there and keep executing your plan," said Rhymes when asked about avoiding frustration when the offense misfired early. "At the top of the order I just try to keep getting on base. You know that sooner or later the big guys are going to come through."

Toledo added another run in the sixth on an RBI double by Rhymes, then broke the game open with a pair of runs in the eighth that scored on a triple to left-center by Boesch.

Rhymes, Dlugach, and Boesch combined for 10 of the Hens' 15 hits with five runs scored and five RBIs.

NOTES: Last night's crowd of 3,916 was the second-smallest in the nine-year history of Fifth Third Field. The ballpark's smallest attendance figure was the 3,627 announced on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 in a game against Indianapolis. … Thomas stole three bases yesterday to give him five for the season but left the game after pulling a hamstring. No other Hen has stolen a base this year. … The Indians' Pearce celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday. He finished 1 for 4 with a double. … The Mud Hens were featured in this week's Sports Illustrated. Or, to be more specific, the Fifth Third Fantastic Freeze was mentioned in the "Go Figure" section of the magazine.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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