Mud Hens shortstop Cale Iorg races to plant a tag on Louisville baserunner Dave Sappelt, who was caught leading too far off first base. The Hens had a difficult time getting on track against the Bats pitcher Homer Bailey and were shut out for the second time this season.
Not much went right for the Mud Hens in their 9-0 loss to Louisville on Sunday.
The offense struggled, collecting just four hits while being shut out for the second time this season. Defensively, Toledo pitchers allowed 13 hits, including three home runs, along with six walks. The two errors behind them didn’t help, either.
Even the crowd was small; the Easter Sunday attendance was announced at 4,008 for the fifth-smallest crowd in Fifth Third Field history.
So what do you do?
“Win, lose, or draw, 144 times you have to set the last game behind you,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “You have to come out the next day as if it didn’t happen.
“We lost a tough game [Saturday], and I know I didn’t get any sleep.”
That’s not to say Sunday’s game wasn’t tough on the manager, seeing as there weren’t many — if any — bright spots. Long-time Louisville manager Rick Sweet may not have been sympathetic, but he sure did understand.
“Over the course of a season you’re going to be on both ends of those types of games,” Sweet said. “In Columbus we got beat 19-3 the other night.
“And this wasn’t quite the blowout we had in Columbus. In this ballpark, five runs can go away in a heartbeat.”
Still, the Bats managed to score five runs off Toledo starter Andy Oliver, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings. It was a far cry from his first start against Louisville in the season opener, when he allowed just four hits and two runs in six strong frames.
“In the game at our place, he blew us away,” Sweet said of Oliver. “He’s got very good stuff, and he had good stuff in this game.
“For us, it was about getting into fastball counts and hitting good fastballs. We didn’t blow him away; we squeaked in a run here and got some bunts down and then got some big base hits.”
Sweet was right: Louisville’s run in the second scored thanks to a sacrifice and a grounder that squeezed through a drawn-in infield, while the run in the third was manufactured thanks to a walk, a bunt hit, a balk, and a sacrifice fly.
“They were more aggressive, swinging first pitch a lot,” Oliver said. “[My fastball command] could have been better, and there are some things I could have done differently.
“But those things are going to happen — that’s baseball. Being able to focus on the next pitch and being able to let it go while you get back to your routine is what you need to do.”
Toledo manager Phil Nevin pulls starting pitcher Andy Oliver, who lasted four-plus innings and gave up seven hits, five runs, walked four, and struck out two. The loss was Oliver’s first of the 2011 season.
“He wasn’t able to throw to both sides of the plate, and that happens,” Nevin said of Oliver. “But at the end of the day, we weren’t down that much when Andy left the game. When you don’t score, you’re not going to win many games.”
And the Mud Hens didn’t come close to scoring off Bats starter Homer Bailey, who is rehabbing from a shoulder impingement. Bailey allowed just three hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings, striking out six along the way.
“The command was there,” said Bailey, who did not allow a runner to advance past second base. “For a rehab start, I thought it went really well. Having Corky [Miller at catcher], someone I’m familiar with helped too; I only shook off one pitch [he called].”
Bailey said he thinks he’ll have one more rehab start with the Bats.
“He looks like he’s ready to go [back up] now,” Nevin said. “We didn’t have many good swings, and that’s a credit to him.”
Jeremy Horst relieved Bailey in the sixth and pitched around two walks, while Ayersville High School product Chad Reineke limited the Hens to just one hit over the final three innings to earn a save.
“For two years, he’s been in a class to himself,” Sweet said of Reineke. “They like him in the big leagues, and twice he has been within a whisker of getting called up.
“He throws strikes, and he knows how to play the game. He throws quality strikes and works fast. If you put a good defense behind Chad, you will have a chance to win a lot of ball games.”
NOTE: The Mud Hens put IF Danny Worth on the disabled list before Sunday’s game. Worth pulled his right hamstring beating out a base hit in Saturday’s game. IF Bryan Pounds will be called up from Double-A Erie to take Worth’s place.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.