The Mud Hens' Ben Guez slides into home plate safely against the Durham Bulls during the sixth on Friday at Fifth Third Field.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
There were plenty of smiles in the clubhouse following Toledo’s 8-2 victory over Durham at Fifth Third Field Friday.
Bryan Holaday was smiling after his three-run double in the sixth broke a 2-2 tie and lifted him to a four-RBI night.
Shawn Hill was smiling after throwing six solid innings, thanks to some splendid defense behind him, that helped him win his second start. Everyone was smiling after a victory that snapped the Hens’ four-game losing streak.
The early innings saw Hill hold the Bulls in check thanks in part to some outstanding defense.
Durham scored twice in the second, but after that the right-hander kept the Bulls scoreless, finishing with six hits and three walks allowed in six innings to win his second start since coming off the disabled list July 5.
Hill was quick to acknowledge some of the credit went to his defense. Gustavo Nunez made a pair of highlight-worthy plays at second base, including a diving stop and flip to second that started an inning-ending double play in the third, while Jordan Lennerton robbed Mike Fontenot of a hit by grabbing a hard liner down the first-base line in the sixth.
“They were Gold Glovers,” Hill said. ‘I’m not striking out a bunch of guys, so I need the defensive help, and I appreciate it.
“That double play by Nunez was great, and if you watched on the ball hit to Lennerton, I thought it was by him, so I was late getting off the mound. Afterwards I said, ‘My bad, I thought it was by you.’ And he said, ‘Never!’”
Meanwhile the Hens offense had its most productive game in its current homestand thanks to eight runs on 11 hits. After Durham scored twice in the second, Toledo bounced back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
Danny Dorn hammered his 22nd home run of the season to start the inning, and Ben Guez doubled, then scored on a Holaday groundout to tie the contest.
Then in the sixth Lennerton doubled, Dorn was intentionally walked with one out, and Guez worked a walk to load the bases for Holaday. Holaday got ahead of Bulls starter Jake Odorizzi 3-1, then cleared the bases with a double into the left-center gap.
“I was up there looking for a pitch to hit, and luckily I worked myself into a hitter’s count,” Holaday said. “On 3-1 I was looking for a fastball I could drive, and I got it, and luckily I didn’t miss it.”
Kevin Russo singled Holaday to third, and Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin called for a suicide squeeze. Argenis Diaz got the bunt down, and Holaday scored easily.
“I was all for it,” Holaday said. “Nevin whispered it in my ear, and I was ready to go.”
Toledo capped the win with two more runs in the eighth, taking advantage of two hits and a walk to load the bases before Bulls shortstop Tim Beckham misplayed a grounder that brought two more runs home.
“I thought everyone swung the bats well,” Nevin said. “I thought guys like Lennerton and Dorn had good at-bats throughout [the game], and I thought Holaday looked relaxed and put a good swing on the ball for the big hit of the game.”
NOTES: Nevin said that Nick Castellanos, whose wife gave birth to a son named Liam, should return to the Hens on Sunday. Jose Ortega, whose wife gave birth to a son named Diego, also should be available very soon. … The crowd of 9,809 was the Mud Hens 22nd sellout this season.