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After a 7-20 record in the month of April, the Mud Hens wanted to hit the “reset” button on their season.
Whether it was the day off Wednesday, the start of a new month, or a return home after a 2-9 road trip, Toledo’s 4-2 win over Charlotte was a breath of fresh air in the Hens’ clubhouse.
“That first month was tough, and it was nice to get back home,” said Danny Dorn, whose solo home run to start the seventh broke a 2-2 tie. “When we were here last time, we were putting on sweatshirts, and now we were in shorts [in batting practice] and putting on sunscreen.
“As the weather heats up, so will we.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens defeat Charlotte Knights
The Hens snapped a five-game losing streak with a combination of good pitching, especially by the bullpen, a solid defense that turned three tough double plays, and timely hitting that was missing most of last month.
“We only played nine home games in the month of April,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. “It seemed we were gone for a long time.
“Guys have had a chance to settle into their places now. Hopefully a win like this, where we executed late offensively, and where the bullpen did a good job, will help.”
Mud Hens starter Casey Crosby labored through five innings, walking five Knights in the first two. But he allowed just single runs in the first and fourth innings to keep Toledo in the game early.
“I just felt really uncomfortable out there,” Crosby admitted. “I was a little shaky, but I’m glad I was able to bear down and throw strikes.
“You’ve got to grind it out. You have your teammates behind you to make plays, and they did.”
Meanwhile the offense scored a pair of runs in the second off Charlotte starter Zach Stewart. Singles by Jordan Lennerton and Avisail Garcia set the table for Bryan Holaday, whose double scored Lennerton and sent Garcia to third, where he scored on a groundout by Argenis Diaz.
In the bottom of the seventh, Dorn got ahead of Stewart 2-1 and lined a shot into The Roost for his team-leading fifth home run of the season.
“I just wanted to get a good pitch to hit, take a good swing, and not try to do too much,” Dorn said. “Luckily I got a good pitch to hit and got it.”
The home run gave Dorn hits in six of his last seven games, a span in which he has hit 10-for-25 (.400) with three home runs and six RBIs.
“Dorn has been swinging the bat well for the last week,” Nevin said. “[His home run] was a shot in the arm because it gave us some momentum back.”
Toledo added an insurance run when Holaday singled, his third hit of the night, took third on a hit-and-run single by Brandon Douglas, and scored when the Knights were only able to get one out and Quintin Berry’s groundout.
“That add-on run was a big one,” Nevin said. “A two-run lead is huge, because if something happens and a baserunner gets on, you still have some breathing room.
“They have to get two runners on, and to do that against a guy like [Brayan] Villarreal or [Bruce] Rondon is tough to do.”
Toledo’s four relievers — Jess Todd, Matt Hoffman, Villarreal, and Rondon — combined to give up just one hit and two walks while fanning four in four scoreless innings. Hoffman got the win after striking out Lars Anderson to end the seventh, while Rondon’s scoreless nine earned him his fourth Toledo save.
“They’ve been unbelievable all year,” Dorn said of the bullpen. “They’ve kept us in every single game.
“I’m glad I’m on this team and don’t have to face those guys, because we have some serious arms in that bullpen.”
NOTES: Before the game, the Mud Hens released DH John Lindsey, who hit.200 with four home runs and seven RBIs in 22 games. … C Ramon Cabrera was promoted to Toledo after Double-A Erie’s game was finished. Cabrera, who came to Detroit in the trade that sent Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh, hit .351 with no home runs and 20 RBIs in 24 games with the SeaWolves. ... LHP Phil Coke, who was placed on the disabled list by the Tigers earlier in the week, came to Toledo on Thursday to work out before the game. After the game he provided a postgame spread of food from PF Chang’s to the team.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.