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The Mud Hens need some work on their foreshadowing.
On a night that began well enough in a month that began even better, the other shoe thudded back to earth in the Hens’ 10-6 loss to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Wednesday at Fifth Third Field.
Jordan Lennerton hit a two-run homer in the first inning and fill-in starter Ramon Garcia retired his first four hitters before the Hens — with help from the umpires, their manager contended — took a wrong U-turn.
The loss was their second straight — and marked the Hens’ first losing streak since a sixth straight defeat on May 26. Toledo began the night an International League-best 13-4 in June.
Phil Nevin did not have to think long about when this one got away.
A night after the Hens’ manager was ejected for arguing a checked-swing call, he burned in Toledo’s third-base dugout during the third inning as what he felt were a pair of inning-ending strikeout pitches gave way to one big hit after another.
Garcia did not get the benefit from plate umpire A.J. Johnson on a pair of two-strike calls to Cody Asche with two outs and the Hens leading 2-0. Asche followed with a run-scoring single and, three batters later, Josh Fields capped a four-run inning with a three-run double.
"I thought Ramon threw a great game," Nevin said. "I think there’s four runs tacked on in the third inning that shouldn’t be there. We have a guy struck out twice. It’s not a secret. Whatever they do for managers that talk about umpires, I don’t care, becasue that was awful. Write it down."
Asked if he felt the borderline calls rattled Garcia (2-6), Nevin said, "It’s not about rattling a guy. It’s about giving a good offensive team an extra out twice."
"They get called for a checked swing [Tuesday] night that never even came close to happening. And then [tonight] a batter comes all the way through the zone and [they] don’t call it. Then there’s a pitch that’s a perfect strike that’s not called. It changes the whole complexion of the game.
"You can sit here and say four runs is what the game ended at but it’s not about that. It’s about how you use the bullpen and it’s how you use your players. That’s unacceptable. We’ve got to be held accountable. So should they."
Garcia, called up from Double-A Erie to replace Detroit-bound starter Jose Alvarez, ultimately allowed seven runs on 12 hits over five innings.
He escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the second on a double-play liner. The hints of trouble were real as he gave up the four runs in the third and three more in the fifth.
His replacement, meanwhile, was no better. Brayan Villareal allowed three runs on three hits while walking three over one-third of an inning as the IronPigs took a 10-2 lead in the sixth. Villareal’s only out came when Lehigh Valley leadoff hitter Jermaine Mitchell was thrown out attempting to stretch a single into a double.
The Hens finished with 10 hits. Lennerton’s home run — an opposite-field shot in the first — was his 12th.
"We just have to keep going about our business, keep working hard," Lennerton said. "We can’t be bothered by a two-game slide or anything like that. We know we’re a good team, we know what we’re capable of."
Said Nevin: "The atmosphere in here is good. I know we’re going to get a good effort tomorrow, and I know we’ve got a good team."
Contact David Briggs at:
419-724-6084 or on
Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.