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Published: 5/15/2010

Mud Hens flop before record crowd

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
The Mud Hens' Robinzon Diaz lays down a bunt for a base hit in the sixth inning of Toledo's loss Friday night at Fifth Third Field. The Mud Hens' Robinzon Diaz lays down a bunt for a base hit in the sixth inning of Toledo's loss Friday night at Fifth Third Field.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Simon Cowell would have had a snappy insult ready for the Mud Hens' performance in Friday night's 8-1 loss to Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.

Perhaps the American Idol judge would have said, "You called yourself champagne, but you played like house wine."

The appearance by Crystal Bowersox, the Elliston, Ohio, native who is one of three finalists on Idol, before yesterday's game helped produce a crowd of 13,200, a Fifth Third Field record.

But that crowd saw little from the Mud Hens, who struggled in all facets of the game to lose for the third straight night.

"I think Simon would have banged this game," Toledo manager Larry Parrish admitted.

Hopefully the addition of Ryan Raburn will help an offense that has struggled recently. Raburn was sent down by the Tigers Wednesday when Detroit called up RHP Alfredo Figaro.

"They told me they needed an extra pitcher, and I had an option," Raburn said. An "option" gives a major league team the chance to send a player to the minors without having that player go through waivers.

"I'm using this as a chance to get some at-bats and have some fun," Raburn said. "Hopefully it won't be too long before I get called up to the big leagues."

Raburn hit 16 home runs for Detroit last season, but he has struggled in the early part of this year, batting .213 without a homer in 17 games with the Tigers.

"I wasn't doing great, but I also had a couple of hits taken away by the rainout," Raburn said. "I should be swinging the bat a lot better, but everybody goes through those spurts.

"I hope I can get some at-bats, get into a groove, and get back up to Detroit to help them."

Raburn is expected to help a Toledo offense that has struggled recently, batting just .239 in May and scoring just 50 runs in its first 12 games.

Among the Hens who are struggling at the plate are catcher Robinzon Diaz, who came into last night's game hitless in his last 14 at-bats; infielder Will Rhymes, who was 1-for-15 before last night; and outfielder Deik Scram, who was 0-for-18.

"Raburn has hit in the big leagues. I know he'll need a few days to get his swing back, but he's a proven hitter who should help us out," Parrish said.

Toledo needed offensive help last night as it managed just seven hits and a single run, which came in the seventh when Brent Dlugach singled, then raced home on Scram's double.

Parish gave some of the credit for the Mud Hens' offensive struggles to Indianapolis starter Mike Crotta, who allowed just seven hits and one run while fanning five in seven innings to earn the win.

"He threw strikes and had good movement on the ball," Parrish said. "It looked like he had a plan, and he had us hitting the ball on the ground."

Of the 21 outs Crotta got, 12 came on ground balls.

But the Indians didn't have many problems with offense, using home runs to build an early advantage.

Indianapolis scored twice in the fourth inning when Neil Walker led off by drawing a walk from Hens starter Ryan Ketchner and scoring on a long home run to center by Pedro Alvarez, the ninth homer of the year for one of the Pirates' top prospects.

In the fifth the Tribe's Brian Friday slammed a 3-1 pitch from Ketchner off the scoreboard in left for his first home run this season.

A walk, a wild pitch and a single by Brandon Jones produced a run in the sixth, and Indianapolis broke the game open with three runs in the seventh off reliever Scot Drucker.

While the Tribe did have four hits in the inning, the Hens contributed to the rally with a wild pitch, a passed ball and a throwing error.

"It got a little ugly there at the end," Parrish said. "We were bouncing balls, not blocking balls, didn't stop an errant throw - it got to be ugly."

Walker closed the scoring with a ninth-inning home run off Casey Fien, Walker's sixth homer of the year.

NOTES: Detroit manager Jim Leyland said RHP Armando Galarraga would be called up to Detroit to start tomorrow's game against the Red Sox. While Parrish would not announce a replacement for Galarraga, who was expected to start for the Hens tomorrow, the logical replacement is Alfredo Figaro, who was optioned to the Hens. … OF Casper Wells was promoted to Detroit yesterday, but he is expected to return to Toledo when Galarraga is called up. … The start of yesterday's game, which was pushed back a half hour to accommodate Bowersox's busy schedule, still started 16 minutes late.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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