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After the Mud Hens suffered a 4-1 loss to Louisville in their home opener Thursday, a brief players-only meeting took place.
While Toledo manager Phil Nevin didn’t take part, he had a good handle on the meeting’s message.
“Hopefully what they’re talking about is that it’s early in the season, and we know what we’re capable of,” he said.
And several players confirmed that was message after the Hens lost for the fourth straight time, falling to 1-7 on the season.
PHOTO GALLERY: Louisville Bats vs. Mud Hens
PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens Opening Day 2013
A dismal day — temperature at first pitch was just 38 degrees, with a steady rain and winds around 20 miles per hour making it seem colder — was made more miserable as the Hens committed three errors that led to three unearned runs, coughed up five walks, and managed just three hits.
Nevin preaches patience.
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“I’m not sure what the timetable is for you to stop saying it’s early, but it’s early,” he said. “We’re eight games into the season, and there are a lot of guys who aren’t swinging the bats the way they will.
“And I know they will.”
Toledo starter Casey Crosby held the Bats in check until the fourth inning, when his wildness gave them their first run. Crosby walked Jason Donald with one out, then threw a wild pitch before walking Henry Rodriguez.
Denis Phipps then hit a grounder down the first-base line that struck the bag, then bounced away for an RBI double.
“Early on I felt great — I was letting it go and it was doing what I wanted it to,” Crosby said. “If I miss a couple of times, I have to keep the mentality where I trust my mechanics and just let it go. …
“I’m upset right now because [I lost it and] I couldn’t get it back.”
In the fifth, Crosby walked the first two batters he faced and was replaced by Luke Putkonen, who walked the bases loaded but escaped without giving up a run thanks to a force at home and a double play.
“That’s something Casey battles with a little bit,” Nevin said of his wildness. “When he faces a little adversity, he needs to keep his concentration and focus.”
In the sixth, a one-out throwing error by Danny Worth at shortstop was followed by a run-scoring double by the Bats’ Neftali Soto, who took third on a flyout to right, then scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Ray Chang that went for a hit.
In the eighth, Louisville added run when Worth made another throwing error, and Soto lined an RBI double to the wall in left.
“Danny Worth is one of the most accurate-throwing infielders I know,” Nevin said. “For two balls to squirt out of his hand like that is uncharacteristic. On a dry field I promise you he doesn’t do that twice. …
“The problem is when you don’t throw strikes and put baserunners on, that puts more pressure on your defense.”
Meanwhile, the Mud Hens managed just two hits in seven innings against Bats starter Greg Reynolds, who didn’t allow a runner past second base. In the eighth, reliever Clay Hensley pitched around a pair of walks, but he wasn’t as fortunate in the ninth.
Nick Castellanos singled with two outs and Danny Dorn walked before Louisville brought in closer Kevin Whelan, who walked John Lindsay to load the bases and Jordan Lennerton to force home a run. But Worth struck out to end the game.
The three-hit effort lowered the Hens’ team batting average to .193, the worst mark in the International League.
“It’s another thing we have to battle with,” Lennerton said. “Baseball is like that: You have your good days and your bad days, your good weeks and your bad weeks.
“It’s still early. We know we’re going to come through and hit. We just have to fight through it and keep battling.”
Nevin said he probably will move Lennerton, who is hitting .333 this season, behind Castellanos to try and shake up his struggling offense.
“We’ll just play hot hand right now,” Nevin said. “It not because of what anybody has or hasn’t done, because I know our guys will hit.
“You try to play a hot hand and find something.”
NOTES: The Mud Hens announced the attendance for the opener at 12,531. … Before the game the Mud Hens put RHP Luis Marte on disabled list with a tender shoulder. At this point Toledo will not replace him on the roster. … Detroit has added RHP Jose Valverde to the Hens’ roster, but the right-hander is on the temporary inactive list. Valverde is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game today in Lakeland, Fla. … IF Kevin Russo did not play because of a hip pointer. He is listed as day to day. … Louisville’s Mike Hessman, who played for Toledo from 2005-09, was in the original lineup but was scratched with a wrist injury. He also is day to day.
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