The Mud Hens jolted the Columbus Clippers 8-5 with a power surge of three home runs Sunday night at Fifth Third Field.
Two homers in the first inning staked Toledo to a three-run lead and the Hens added five more runs in the fifth with the bulk of the damage coming on a three-run shot from John Lindsey before a sellout crowd of 9,831.
"That's a great, great feeling," Lindsey said. "We're entertainers in this game. We rely on the fans every day. So we want to play a good ball game for them."
Toledo (60-83) wraps up a disappointing season today with a 1 p.m. contest against the Clippers (74-69), who also will miss the playoffs.
Toledo starter Duane Below (1-2) benefited from the offensive explosion to get the win. Below gave up eight hits and five earned runs on 104 pitches over 6⅓ innings. Reliever Collin Balester then gave up no hits or runs over 1⅔ innings and Bruce Rondon closed it out with a scoreless ninth.
Toledo did instant, early damage with home runs by left fielder Jerad Head and first baseman Danny Dorn to seize a 3-0 lead.
"You don't want to give at bats away down the stretch," said Head, who hit his 12th of the season. "All of these numbers go on the back of your baseball card. We want to finish strong."
After the Clippers struck back for two, Toledo responded with five runs in the fifth.
Right fielder Ben Guez came up with a two-out, two-run single to make it 5-2. Guez drove in Cale Iorg, who had doubled, and Justin Henry (walk).
Lindsey, who went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, then smacked his 15th home run over the right-field fence to give the Hens a 8-2 edge.
Columbus countered with three runs in the seventh to knock Below out. But Balester was sound in the seventh and eighth innings, while Rondon pitched a perfect ninth. Rondon fanned the final batter.
"When you have 9,000 fans here you want them to leave with a good taste in their mouth," Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "Any night that your power guys come up big with home runs, it jump starts you. We got the momentum early and we didn't let up."
Head gave Toledo a 1-0 lead with a long, solo home run over the left-field fence. Dorn followed with his 14th, a two-run shot that traveled on a line over the right-field fence.
In his last 17 games coming into Sunday's game, Head had a .350 batting average with three doubles, four home runs, and 13 runs batted in.
Below benefited from back-to-back fine plays at third by Audy Ciriaco in the fourth inning. Center fielder Justin Henry also made a nice diving catch in the first.
Toledo had lost five of six entering Sunday's game. Before that the Hens had won five straight.
"The game itself should be the motivation," Nevin said. "We've been out of the race for quite some time but we still have played hard."
NOTES: Toledo lost six players to September call-ups to Detroit. Right handed pitchers Al Albuquerque and Luis Marte joined the Tigers along with infielders Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn, Danny Worth, and catcher Bryan Holaday were called up on Saturday. ... To take their spots on the Mud Hens rosters, catcher Ben Pickar and infielder Edgar Corcino were called up from Connecticut. Right handed pitcher Rob Waite also was re-called from Erie. Pickar and Corcino have never seen playing time past the Single-A level. Waite is 2-3 with a 4.55 ERA with Toledo this season.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.
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