Mud Hens struggle in home loss

Toledo falls to Charlotte; both teams in last place


Charlotte snapped a seven-game losing streak by knocking off the Mud Hens 10-2 at Fifth Third Field on Friday night.

And that led to a bit of an awkward moment for the Knights.

“That third out was made in the ninth, and no one knew what to do,” catcher Josh Phegley said.

Charlotte certainly seemed to know what to do during the game.

The offense pounded out 16 hits and scored multiple runs in three different innings, while the pitching staff gave up eight hits but stranded nine base runners.

As a result, Toledo lost for the ninth time in the last 11 games.

Both teams are tied for the worst record in the International League at 8-21, but the similarities don’t end there.

The two teams are struggling because of offenses that aren’t producing many runs: The Mud Hens are last in the league in runs scored, while the Knights had scored just 14 runs during their seven-game losing skid.

“It seems like every night one or two guys have multiple hits, but the rest of the team struggles,” said Phegley, who led Charlotte with a pair of home runs.

“The next day it’s somebody else’s turn, and we can’t seem to put it together.”

Phegley got Knights on the board in the second when he slammed a 2-2 pitch from Toledo starter Ramon Garcia off the left-field scoreboard for a two-run homer.

“That at-bat was a tough one because I got ahead 2-0, then swung at two balls, so I should have walked,” Phegley admitted. “I was swinging at everything, so I tried to sit back.

“I think that helped me stay on that change-up. It was a good pitch, but I had a good mind-set for it.”

Garcia, making just his second start in his third appearance for the Mud Hens, kept his team in the game.

He allowed just three hits and didn’t walk a batter in the first five innings, then came out after giving up a leadoff single in the sixth.

“I said before the game that if he could get through five, I’d be really happy with that,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Garcia. “I had him back out there in the sixth because the first batter was a lefty-lefty [match-up], and after that we go to the bullpen, which has been a strength.

“It just didn’t work out.”

Evan Reed came on and managed to get just two outs while surrendering five hits, including a two-run double by Josh Bell and an RBI double by Phegley, as the Knights scored four times.

“Our bullpen has been phenomenal all year,” Nevin said. “It was just one night.

“I thought Reed threw the ball better than the final line looks, but that happens some times.”

Charlotte added a run in the seventh, then scored three more in the eighth. Phegley homered for the second time in the game to lead off the eighth.

Then Argenis Diaz mishandled a grounder to open the door to a big rally.

After another single, Blake Tekotte lined a single to right that skipped past Avisail Garcia for an error that brought home two more runs.

“I know Diaz has made seven errors, but to me he’s still the best defender in this league,” Nevin said. “He’s a major-league defender. ...

“And that was a tough ball to Avisail. He came in, thinking he could catch it, and it squirted away from him. Where he runs into problems is when it gets late in the game, it’s 8-2, and he loses concentration. But when the game is on the line, there’s nobody better.”

Meanwhile the Hens managed single runs in the third and sixth off Charlotte starter Andre Rienzo.

Toledo put runners on base in every inning but the second and ninth but were 1-for-8 when hitting with runners in scoring position.

“I thought Rienzo had pretty good stuff,” Nevin said. “It looked like he could dial it up to 93, 94 mph, and he threw some good breaking balls.”

NOTES: Quintin Berry was hit above the right elbow with a pitch in the seventh and left the game. Nevin said Berry suffered some swelling and may not play for a day or two. ... In the top of the ninth Avisail Garcia collided with Brandon Douglas on a catch, with Garcia laying on the grass a short time after the catch. Nevin said he expects Garcia will be available to play in today’s 7 p.m. contest.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.