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The Mud Hens’ offensive woes reached a new low in a 2-0 loss to Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday.
Toledo managed just three hits, tying its season low, and was shut out for the first time this season in losing its fourth game in a row.
Only Rochester, which fell to 2-11 with a loss Wednesday, has a worse record than the Hens’ 3-11 mark.
What made Toledo’s offensive struggles more painful was that they came against an emergency starter for Indianapolis, Kyle Waldrop.
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The right-hander, who had thrown only three innings this season before Wednesday, held the Hens in check on two hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings.
“We’ve seen him the last couple of years, and he has a lot of movement on his pitches,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Waldrop. “We talked before the game about making the pitch be up [in the strike zone].
“But his ball was really moving, and I think he broke four or five bats his first time through the order. He threw strikes, kept the ball out of the center of the plate, and used his defense.”
Waldrop retired the first nine Hens in a row before Quintin Berry and Gustavo Nunez hit back-to-back singles to lead off the fourth. But Waldrop got a double-play grounder from Nick Castellanos and a groundout by Jordan Lennerton to escape trouble, then retired six more Hens hitters until the seventh.
In that inning, Nunez reached on a Waldrop error but was erased by a Castellanos double-play ball. Waldrop then walked Lennerton, but reliever Ryan Reid got the final out of the inning and then pitched a scoreless eighth.
Vic Black retired the Hens in the ninth to claim the save and make a hard-luck loser of Toledo starter Duane Below, who gave up just three hits and one walk in seven solid innings.
Nevin said he thought Below threw as well as he has in this young season.
“One thing I noticed is that his breaking ball was a little sharper,” Nevin said of Below. “He threw some first-pitch breaking balls for strikes, and he was able to throw the back-leg breaking ball for some swings and misses.
“His pitch count was low, and I know he’s been working on that.”
Below’s only trouble came in the third. Leadoff man Felix Pie singled, but Below got two outs before Jordy Mercer hit a fair ball down the third-base line into left. The ball hit the cutout wall and bounced back toward the infield, and the speedy Pie scored from first on a double.
Brandon Inge then followed with an RBI single to score Mercer.
“I felt good going into the third inning, but when Pie led off with a single, I started trying to do too much,” Below admitted. “I got two outs, but I still worried about him stealing. I should have gone after the hitter and gotten the third out.”
Below retired the next hitter and cruised, retiring the last 13 batters he faced.
“After that I went back to my game plan, which was to be aggressive and let them get themselves out,” Below said. “I slowed my mechanics down and got into a groove.”
NOTES: Danny Worth injured his left heel running out a groundout in the first inning and left the game before the fourth inning started. Nevin said he may get today off and his status is day-to-day. … Inge, who is on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis, purchased food from Biaggi’s as a post-game spread for his Indians teammates.