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There usually isn’t much to smile about in a 12-3 defeat.
But there was at least one laugh for the Mud Hens in their lopsided loss to Durham in front of 9,663 fans at Fifth Third Field Thursday morning.
Toledo’s pitching staff, already stretched thin by promotions to Detroit, and eight innings of work Tuesday, used Scott Thorman in the ninth.
Thorman, in case you forgot, is a position player who has thrown just two innings in his 12-year pro career.
“When you lose a game, it’s not ever fun — it stinks,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “But at least we had something to chuckle about a little bit.
“It’s not something you want to do, and it’s not something you look forward to doing.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Mud Hens vs. Durham Bulls
Thorman pitched a scoreless ninth with a “fastball” that hit 71 on the radar gun to go with a knuckleball, holding the Bulls to a walk, and two-out single.
“Any time a position player has to pitch, it’s not the best situation,” Thorman said. “I tried to have a little fun with it, pick up the staff a little bit and come back the next day strong.
“I wasn’t trying to light up the radar gun; I was just trying to get through the inning. [Durham] also was a good sport, trying to get through the inning without getting anyone hurt.”
Unfortunately, Thorman was the Mud Hens’ most effective pitcher as the team lost its fourth straight game. Starter Thad Weber and three relievers combined to surrender 14 hits and 10 walks in the first eight innings as Durham scored twice in four different innings and had a four-run sixth to snap a five-game losing streak.
“We had a certain number of pitches we could use each guy, and got to their numbers,” Nevin said. “Thorman offered to help us out a little bit, and he helped us out.”
Toledo needed a strong start from Weber after the bullpen covered eight innings Tuesday, but Weber struggled. He gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Guyer in the first, then two more runs in the third before getting knocked out of the box during a two-run fourth, finishing with 10 hits and six runs allowed in 3⅔ innings.
“His command [was not good], and he left a lot of stuff up [in the strike zone],” Nevin said of Weber, who is 1-3 with an 8.80 ERA and .353 opponent’s batting average in May. “Thad just hasn’t done that in the past.
“He’s going through a funk right now, and it’s frustrating for him. I haven’t seem him have games in a row where the command wasn’t there, but I haven’t lost confidence in him.”
Durham finished with 15 hits and 11 walks as every Bulls hitter reached base at least once. Guyer and Russ Canzler each went 3 for 3 with three walks; Guyer scored four times, while Canzler had three runs and four RBIs.
That was too much for the Toledo offense to overcome, although it seemed poised to do so after scoring three runs on three hits in the first inning off Durham starter Brian Baker. But Baker retired all 12 Hens he faced in the next four innings, and the Hens had just five hits after their early rally.
“We stayed aggressive offensively, but it seemed we hit the bottom of the baseball in this game,” said Nevin, noting that the Hens had 14 outs on either fly balls or pop outs. “Baker couldn’t find the strike zone in the first, and he found it after that.
“That shows what can happen when you throw strikes.”
NOTES: Before the game RHP L.J. Gagnier was promoted to the Mud Hens from Double-A Erie. Gagnier, who won seven games for the Hens last season, was 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA with the SeaWolves this season. ... RHP Robbie Weinhardt passed through waivers unclaimed and is expected to be active for Friday’s 7 p.m. game. ... Thursday’s crowd of 9,663 was the Mud Hens’ third sellout this season. ... Toledo lost all four morning games it played this season after going 20-9 during 10:30 a.m. starts the previous nine years at Fifth Third Field.
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