The Mud Hens claimed an 8-6 victory over Lehigh Valley at Fifth Third Field on Monday, and Toledo’s star of the game was a pitcher.
That’s right, a pitcher. Forget that the offense piled up 16 hits, including a trio of two-run home runs. The key to victory was a pitcher.
And it wasn’t the last two pitchers, although Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon dominated the IronPigs, striking out seven batters in a row on the way to securing the Hens’ seventh straight win.
The key to the game for Toledo was the pitching of Robbie Weinhardt, even though his final line showed him giving up five runs.
You see, Weinhardt had to come on in an emergency appearance after starter Casey Crosby was injured. Weinhardt covered 5 2/3 innings — nearly double his previous longest outing this year — and kept Lehigh Valley in check to allow the Mud Hens offense to carry the team to its seventh straight win.
“Robbie Weinhardt was outstanding,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. “I know the line doesn’t look that great … but the way he picked up our bullpen was huge.
“You can say all you want about the offense, but Robbie was the star of the game.”
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Crosby seemed to injure himself trying to field a ball in the first inning, and he left the game after his first warmup pitch before the second. He was replaced by Weinhardt.
“My goal was to get the team to the sixth or seventh inning,” Weinhardt said. “I wanted to eat some innings, trying to keep as few [pitchers] out there as possible.”
Of the 17 outs Weinhardt got, 12 were on groundballs as he didn’t allow a Lehigh Valley baserunner past second base except for hiccups in the fourth and seventh innings.
“I was just trying to be me,” Weinhardt said. “I wanted to get guys out on pitches early, and I was able to do that.
“I got some groundballs, and that’s what I get when I’m going well.”
The IronPigs scored a run in the first off Crosby, but Toledo got that run back in the third thanks to an RBI double by Danny Worth.
Then in the fourth, disaster struck when Worth caught a cleat in the turf on a groundball that could have been the final out of the inning. Instead, the error put two runners on for Lehigh Valley’s Leandro Castro, who slammed a three-run homer.
But the Mud Hens quickly bounced back to score four times in the bottom of the fourth off IronPigs starter Tyler Cloyd, the pitcher of the year in the International League last season. Mike Cervenak got the rally started with a double, and Ben Guez pounded a two-run home run, his second in as many days.
Then Brad Davis singled and Argenis Diaz followed with a long home run to straightaway center to give the Hens the lead for good.
“We don’t think there’s any lead we can’t come back from right now,” Guez said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
Toledo added three runs in the fifth thanks to a sacrifice fly by Danny Dorn and a two-run homer by Cervenak, one of his three hits.
Six other Mud Hens had two hits as Toledo finished with six doubles and three home runs.
Those add-on runs proved valuable when Weinhardt, who was up to a season-high 74 pitches in the seventh, gave up a two-run homer to Jermaine Mitchell.
But Alburquerque and Rondon slammed the door on Lehigh Valley as Alburquerque struck out five batters — one reached base on a passed ball — whle Rondon fanned a pair before getting a line drive to close out his 14th save.
“If they’re throwing strikes, they’re going to strike out guys,” Nevin said of Alburquerque and Rondon. “But they’re also going to get quicker outs.
“Instead of having deep counts, they’ll get quicker outs – and better defense behind them because you keep the defense on its toes with lower pitch counts.”
Contact John Wagner at:
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