Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin blamed his third-base coach for his team’s loss Monday afternoon to Buffalo.
Twice Toledo’s third-base coach tried to score runners from third on hits — and both times that runner was thrown out at the plate. And when you lose by two runs, well, two runners who didn’t score loom large.
GALLERY: Hens lose at home.
What’s more, the Hens’ third-base coach willingly accepted the manager’s decision that the two gaffes cost the team a victory.
Of course, the Hens third-base coach is ... manager Phil Nevin.
“You can put this one on the third-base coach,” he said following Toledo’s 7-5 setback at Fifth Third Field. “I screwed that up twice.
“And that’s too bad, because we really battled.”
The first time the Hens had a runner thrown out at home was the fourth, when Jordan Lennerton walked and Nick Castellanos drilled a double down the left-field line.
When the ball hit the fence and bounced back toward the infield, Nevin waved Lennerton home. But Buffalo shortstop Ryan Goins raced into shallow left to track the ball down and threw home, and Lennerton was out by 30 feet.
“I ran us out of that inning,” Nevin admitted. “I never saw the shortstop go over there [to get the ball], and that’s my fault.
“You have to be conservative when you’re down [six runs].”
The other missed opportunity came in the ninth, when the Hens were trying to tie the game. With the tying runs on base and two outs, Danny Dorn singled to right, and Nevin waved Argenis Diaz home from second.
But Bisons rightfielder Anthony Gose threw home and catcher Mike Nickeas tagged Diaz out to end the game.
“That was just a bad move [to send Diaz],” Nevin said. “I didn’t even think they were going to throw home.
“But you can’t take the chance. You have Ben Guez coming up, and he’s been a good RBI guy.”
Those two baserunning decisions cost the Hens a chance to come back from a huge early deficit. In the second inning the Bisons collected eight straight hits off Toledo starter Jon Link, including a bases-loaded triple by Gose, that gave them a 7-0 lead.
Robbie Weinhardt came on and kept Gose from scoring, eventually throwing 4 2/3 scoreless eeeeeeeinnings of relief.
“I just want to come in and eat some innings,” Weinhardt said. “I know they want me to try and get to the sixth or seventh inning, rather than trying to burn two or three guys.
“I was just trying to get guys out early in the count, and get as many ground balls as possible.”
Weinhardt allowed six hits, but he also got nine of his 14 outs on groundouts. He also benefited from Castellanos in left throwing out a runner at the plate in the sixth.
“If I can get three hard-hit lineouts, but only use four pitches, I’ll take it,” Weinhardt said. “You want to get deep into the game, and give your team a chance to get back into the game.”
The Mud Hens offense got back into the game thanks to a solo home run by Dorn in the second — his team-leading 21st this season — and two runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
A run-scoring groundout by Diaz and a two-out RBI single by Avisail Garcia produced runs in the seventh, and Danny Worth’s two-run double inched Toledo closer in the eighth.
But the Hens couldn’t close the gap completely, and afterwards Nevin took the blame.
“I’m not frustrated — I’m [peeved]. I’m [peeved] at myself,” Nevin said after the game. “This team has been battling. We have goals for where we want to go, and we still can achieve them. And I felt we let that one slip away.”
“To be honest, we really should still be playing. I’ll take [the blame for] that one.”