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Robinzon Diaz experienced both the highs and lows of hitting in one ninth-inning at-bat Sunday.
While the at-bat started on a low, the Mud Hens' catcher ended it on a high, collecting a game-winning single that capped a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.
Diaz came to the plate in the ninth inning with the game tied, no one out, and teammates Ben Guez and Deik Scram on second and first, respectively. Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish signaled for Diaz to sacrifice the runners up a base, but Diaz failed on the first two pitches thrown by Indians reliever Jean Machi.
"On the bunt attempts I was trying really hard, but when [Machi] was throwing 94, 95 [miles per hour], it's very difficult to do," Diaz said through interpreter Ruddy Lugo.
But Diaz worked himself back into the at-bat by taking three straight pitches, all balls, to make the count full.
"I was looking for a split-finger [fastball] up in the zone because I knew he had that good pitch," Diaz said. "But he kept the ball low, so I waited for him to get the ball up."
Diaz then fouled off a trio of 3-2 pitches, and the runners were moving when Diaz looped the ninth pitch of the at-bat into right for a single that scored Guez with the winning run.
"LP knows I'm a contact hitter," Diaz said. "I want to thank him for giving me the chance to hit in that situation.
"I just wanted to make contact."
The hit by Diaz was the final play in a crazy game that also had highs and lows for the Hens.
The Mud Hens opened the game on a high, scoring two runs in the fourth. With Jeff Frazier on second and Ryan Raburn on third with one out, a 2-2 pitch by Tribe starter Hayden Penn to Max Leon bounced away slightly from Indianapolis catcher Erik Kratz.
Neither runner advanced, but Kratz used his mask to scoop the ball. That's illegal, and it resulted in an error that allowed Raburn to score and moved Frazier to third.
Leon walked, and Guez singled home Frazier.
But the Tribe responded with three runs in the top of the fifth. Hens starter Alfredo Figaro, who allowed just two baserunners in the first four innings, gave up an RBI triple to Kevin Melillo and a run-scoring double to Brian Friday.
After a walk to Jose Tabata, Tabata ran to second to start a double steal. Figaro stepped off the mound and threw to second, but Toledo shortstop Brent Dlugach didn't handle the ball cleanly; while he threw out Tabata trying to scramble back to first, Friday scored.
In the seventh the Tribe got a two-run double from Melillo that was set up by a throwing error by Figaro.
"We gave them some runs," Parrish admitted. "Defensively, we weren't really sharp. And it looked like 'Figgy' lost it a little bit once the defense broke down behind him.
"But [reliever Robbie] Weinhardt kept the score where it was and gave us a chance to come back."
The Hens scored twice in the eighth to start their comeback. Will Rhymes tripled and later scored on a single by Dlugach. Dlugach took third on a single by Raburn and came home on a groundout by Jeff Larish.
In the ninth Leon led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Guez, and came home on a single by Scram, who was 1-for-27 before that hit.
Then Diaz, who came into the game batting just .184, collected the game-winning hit.
"Credit to all of our guys for chipping away at [their lead]," Parrish said. "And two of the biggest hits came from guys at the bottom of the order who have been struggling a little bit recently."
NOTES: RHP Max Scherzer, who was sent down from Detroit Saturday, reported to the Mud Hens before yesterday's game. Parrish said Scherzer will enter the Toledo rotation, perhaps as soon as Thursday. … 2B Scott Sizemore also was sent down by the Tigers Saturday, but did not join the Hens yesterday.
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