Some call it "buzzard's luck." These days it has become "Mud Hens' luck."
Here's a perfect example of Toledo's bad fortune from its 9-2 loss to Norfolk at Fifth Third Field Sunday: With two outs and no one on, Hens reliever Rob Waite struck out the Tides' Miguel Tejada. But strike three bounced in the dirt and away from catcher Rob Brantly, and Tejada was able to reach first.
The next batter, Bill Hall, promptly made the Mud Hens pay by slamming a long home run to right.
It was just the final indignity in Toledo's fifth consecutive loss, not to mention the Hens' sixth loss in seven games in this homestand and 12th setback in their last 13 games at Fifth Third Field.
The biggest culprit in Toledo's losing streak continues to be the offense. The Hens didn't get a hit off Norfolk starter Jason Berken until Cale Iorg led off the sixth with a single, and the Hens finished with just six hits.
"If you score two runs, you aren't going to win many games," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "When you're not swinging the bats and you're not scoring runs, it makes it really tough on the pitchers."
It didn't help that Toledo starter Adam Wilk, who had allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, didn't survive the third inning as the Tides sent 11 men to the plate and collected seven hits and seven runs to blow the game open.
Adam had a rough night," Nevin said. "He was throwing strikes, but he wasn't hitting his spots with the strikes."
Nevin said he liked that his team continues to give good effort despite its losing ways.
"If you watched that third inning, you saw our guys were playing hard and diving all over the place," he said. "We eased up on some of the early work we've been doing in the homestand to give them a break, and it just didn't work."
But the problems continue for an offense that has a .241 team batting average in June and is barely averaging three runs a game this month.
"You try not to think about [the struggles of the offense]," said Ryan Strieby, who had two of Toledo's six hits. "You aren't going to go through 144 games and hit the ball well and be happy all the time.
"You're going to face some adversity like we are — individually and as a team. Guys know it's going to happen, and it's more about how you react to it.
"You can't dwell on the past. You have to show up every day and put it behind you."
Nevin said silly solutions like pulling the lineup out of a hat aren't an option to end the struggles.
"You have to do things professionally," he said. "We're playing hard, we're just not hitting.
"I'm not the guy who will resort to crazy stuff or things that, in my opinion, disrespect the game. I can't rant and rave and holler at them because they are playing hard.
"But at the end of the day, things have to change. We've had discussions, we're doing it all [to turn it around] right now."
NOTES: The Tigers optioned RHP Jacob Turner to Toledo, and Turner will start for the Mud Hens Tuesday when they begin a series in Indianapolis. … The Hens still haven't received word on when DH John Lindsey will be eligible to join the team. Lindsey cannot sign with the team until the Tigers receive paperwork from Lindsey's last team, Laguna in the Mexican League. … The Hens and Norfolk will complete their four-game series with a noon start today. … Sunday's crowd of 9,423 was the Hens' 11th sellout this season.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.