More than a few eyebrows were raised when Brad Davis came on to pitch for the Mud Hens in the ninth inning of their 12-0 loss to Louisville at Fifth Third Field Wednesday.
Davis, you see, is a catcher who had never pitched in a profession game — before Wednesday night, that is.
“I’ve never pitched ever, really,” Davis said.
“I may have pitched an inning early in my high school career. But since then? Never.”
The goal for a position player who pitches is to throw strikes and get outs to save wear and tear on the bullpen, and eventually Davis did that.
His first 12 pitches were high, loading the bases with three walks, before Louisville manager Jim Riggleman ordered his batters to swing.
Once that happened, Davis got a flyout and a double-play groundout to end the inning.
“What are you going to do? I was trying,” Davis said. “We needed an inning — and I was glad I was able to finish it.”
There really wasn’t much good that came from the previous eight innings, at least from Toledo’s standpoint.
The Bats scored in five different frames and pounded out 12 hits, while Louisville starter Armando Galarraga and a pair of relievers shut out the Hens on two hits.
“When you play this many games, you have nights that happen like this,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “I thought Galarraga pitched well — and we didn’t.”
Toledo starter Ramon Garcia struggled through five innings, allowing eight hits and two walks that turned into seven runs, five of which were earned. He gave up three runs in the second on a pair of hits and his own throwing error, a run in the third on two hits, and a three-run homer in the fifth to Felix Perez.
“It was a tough night for [Garcia],” Nevin said.
“They hit some balls where we weren’t standing. I don’t think they hit that many balls hard, but it was a rough night for him.”
After a 1-2-3 sixth, Hens reliever Justin Souza gave up four runs in the seventh, three of them coming on a Nevin Ashley home run.
Jose Ortega came on in the eighth and allowed two walks and in infield hit that produced a run, and his 27-pitch outing necessitated Davis coming on in the ninth.
Meanwhile Galarraga walked three Mud Hens but didn’t give up a hit until the fifth, when Mike Cervenak lined a single off the left-field fence — but was thrown out at second trying to turn the hit into a double.
In the sixth Avisail Garcia lined a one-out single but was stranded at third.
Although Galarraga allowed just five baserunners in his six innings, several Hens hammered long fly balls to deep center, only to see Bats centerfield Billy Hamilton run them down.
“I thought we hit a lot of balls well,” Nevin said. “But when you hit a ball to centerfield, it’s not going to fall with that guy out there.
“The first batter of the game hit a ball that would have hit the centerfield wall, and this guy [Hamilton] is pretty much camped underneath it.”
Kanekoa Texeira and Pedro Villarreal retired the final nine Hens in order to wrap up the team’s second straight loss. Toledo now goes on the road for four games before the All-Star break and eight games after, not returning to Fifth Third Field until July 26.
How quickly will this game be forgotten?
“Right now,” Nevin said. “This type of game happens, and when it does you bring in a guy, like we did with Brad, and you have some laughs with it.
“We do this every day for five months, and you will have games like this. It’s not because we didn’t play hard.”
NOTE: While Avisail Garcia’s single in the sixth extended his current hit streak to 10 straight games, several other Hens saw hit streaks end. Bryan Holaday’s 0-for-3 night ended an eight-game streak; Jordan Lennerton went 0-for-3 to snap a five-game streak, and Danny Dorn went 0-for-2 to end a four-game hit streak.