The 10th inning of the Mud Hens’ 4-3 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday summed up the frustrations of the nine innings that preceded it.
A walk in the top of the 10th opened the door for the RailRiders to score the go-ahead run, and an inability to get the big hit in the bottom of the 10th kept Toledo from extending its winning streak, which ended at four games.
“We just didn’t get that big hit,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “We got a couple of hits to score the runs we did, but we had other runners out there — and we didn’t get them in.
“And a leadoff walk scored, a two-outs-and-no-one-on walk scored, and that was the difference.”
In the top of the 10th inning, Toledo reliever Jess Todd got the first two outs before walking Brennan Boesch on five pitches. Then Zoilo Almonte hit a hot shot that got through first baseman Danny Dorn, who had played the previous nine innings in right field, for an error that put runners on first and third with two outs.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre made the Hens pay for that error as Ronnier Mustelier lined a run-scoring single. “The ball was hit hard, and I know it was an error, but it’s a rocket hit to a guy who has been playing in the outfield,” Nevin said of the error. “[Dorn] is very good over there. I know he’ll take it hard.”
In the bottom of the 10th, the Mud Hens got back-to-back singles from Bryan Holaday and Kevin Russo to open the inning, and Quintin Berry sacrificed the base runners into scoring position.
But Corey Jones struck out, and Argenis Diaz grounded out to make a tough-luck loser out of Todd, who has done his part to aid the Toledo bullpen recently. The right-hander threw 4 2/3 innings in the 16-inning contest against Rochester earlier this month and has pitched in three of the last four games, covering five innings in that span.
“We’ve probably asked more than we should have from Todd,” Nevin admitted. “But he comes in here every day and tells me he can pitch.
“He knows our bullpen is banged up right now, and he takes the ball. I know I have to find a way to give him more rest.”
The loss also spoiled a strong start by Luke Putkonen, who was pressed into duty when Casey Crosby was placed on the disabled list. Putkonen, whose longest outing before Friday was three innings a month ago, faced just one above the minimum in four hitless innings before giving up a single and a walk to start the fifth.
“He went above and beyond what we expected to get,” Nevin said. “I felt if we got four we’d be lucky, and he pitched into the fifth.
“His pitch count was down, so we sent him back out there. But that was a lot to ask — he really hadn’t gone past three, so it would be tough for him to go five.”
Putkonen, who struck out four, said he didn’t pitch any differently than he would in any other outing.
“I wanted to go out there and get quick outs,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to pitch the whole game, so I wanted to get as many [innings] as I could.”
Michael Morrison came on in relief and nearly kept the shutout alive, thanks to a double play that left a runner on third. But Morrison uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the run to score.
Then in the sixth, Morrison gave up a leadoff walk, a one-out single and a two-out double to Mustelier that scored two runs.
Meanwhile, the Hens’ offense struggled with inefficiency, scoring single runs in the second and fourth but leaving seven runners on base in that span.
Jordan Lennerton slammed an opposite-field home run in the seventh to tie the game, but the Mud Hens went just 2-for-11 (.182) when batting with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 baserunners, nine in scoring position.
NOTES: The Mud Hens placed IF Brandon Douglas (shin contusion) and LHP Casey Crosby (shoulder) on the disabled list. Toledo added Jones and Morrison from Double-A Erie to replace Douglas and Crosby.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.