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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Crosby looks strong in return to Mud Hens

Solid start doesn't yield win in duel

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo Mud Hens pitcher Casey Crosby tags out Lehigh Valley IronPigs left fielder Jason Pridie during the fifth inning Wednesday. Toledo lost 2-1. Toledo Mud Hens pitcher Casey Crosby tags out Lehigh Valley IronPigs left fielder Jason Pridie during the fifth inning Wednesday. Toledo lost 2-1.
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There were plenty of comings and goings at Fifth Third Field Wednesday.

Alex Avila is going back to Detroit, while the Tigers announced that Drew Smyly and Luke Putkonen both are coming back to the Mud Hens.

Casey Crosby returned to Toledo from Detroit a few days earlier, and he pitched well in a game the Hens lost 2-1 to Lehigh Valley.

PHOTO GALLERY: IronPigs at Mud Hens June 20

The good news for Tigers fans is that Avila, an American League All-Star with Detroit last season, is ready to return to the lineup.

"I feel great both physically and mentally," Avila said after the game.

"I felt good behind the plate the past two days. Really, these last three days were more about getting into the rhythm of the game."

Avila struck out in his first two at-bats Wednesday before lining an RBI single in the sixth.

He left for a pinch-runner and will rejoin the Tigers today; Detroit is expected to either put Gerald Laird on the disabled list or option Bryan Holaday back to the Mud Hens to make room.

Toledo manager Phil Nevin said he thinks Avila is ready to rejoin the Tigers.

"Alex looks fine -- this [rehab assignment] was more about getting more at-bats and working on timing," Nevin said. "After his second at-bat, he came to me and said his timing was good and he saw the ball well, so he only wanted one more [at-bat].

"Then he went up there, had a nice at-bat and got us a run that tied the game."

Crosby made his first start for the Mud Hens since his three-game stint with the Tigers and pitched well, especially early.

He allowed just one baserunner in his first four innings -- Steve Susdorf singled with two outs in third, and Crosby quickly picked him off first -- while using just 48 pitches.

"My arm felt good early on, and I was able to get some quick outs and some quick innings," Crosby said.

"With this heat, it's good to get those quick outs to save yourself and to help you get deep into the game."

In the fifth Lehigh Valley scored a run on back-to-back doubles by Erik Kratz and Jason Pridie, but Crosby was able to pitch out of further trouble.

In the sixth the IronPigs had runners on second and third with only one out, but the Hens' 23-year-old lefty didn't allow a run.

"I don't think [my problems] were because of the heat; I thought I was rushing my mechanics a little bit," Crosby said.

"Obviously it was hot, but I labored a little bit in the sixth.

"When [pitching coach A.J. Sager] came out, we made a mechanical fix and I was able to get out of it."

Crosby came out after walking the first batter of the seventh, and his final line read just five hits and two walks -- one intentional -- in six innings.

"His location was good, and his stuff was fairly crisp," Nevin said of Crosby.

"When you leave a game with a 1-1 score in the seventh, that's a quality start."

The problem for the Mud Hens was that Lehigh Valley starter Pat Misch also pitched well, giving up just one run on five hits and no walks in seven effective innings.

The only Toledo hitter who advanced past second base against Misch was Matt Young, who singled and moved to second on a sacrifice by Ben Guez before scoring on Avila's single.

"He had some pretty good stuff," Nevin said of Lisch. "We had been taking some good at-bats lately, but you have to score more than one run to win."

The Hens lost the game when Lehigh Valley scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth. Pete Orr beat out a bunt for a one-out single off Toledo reliever Matt Hoffman, then stole second and raced to third on a throwing error by catcher Rob Brantly.

Orr scored on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Frandsen off Hens reliever Jose Ortega.

NOTES: The Tigers announced that Smyly will make a rehab start for the Hens today. Smyly will start and pitch three innings, then will be relieved by scheduled starter Brooks Brown, who celebrated his 27th birthday Wednesday. … Before he left, Avila bought one more post-game meal for his Toledo teammates. The Hens dined on food from Outback Steakhouse after Wednesday's game; Avila purchased food from P.F. Chang's on Monday and The Beirut on Tuesday. … Wednesday's crowd of 9,199 was the Mud Hens' eighth sellout this season.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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