As the Mud Hens stagger toward the finish of the season, the team has had to fashion some new goals.
Making the playoffs is out of the question, and reaching .500 will soon become mathematically impossible as well. So now more than ever one goal is to get players ready should Detroit decide to promote Toledo players for the playoff chase.
PHOTO GALLERY: Hens come up short against Columbus
As the Hens suffered a 6-3 loss to Columbus at Fifth Third Field Monday, several players did their best to attract the eye of the Tigers.
Infielder Danny Worth, who has spent time with Detroit in years past, collected a pair of hits, including a double in the first inning that allowed him to score on a double by Nick Castellanos. Worth now has a nine-game hitting streak and has gone 12-for-38 (.316) in that span to raise his season’s batting average to .228.
“I’m always trying to get hits — I’m just lucky they are falling now,” he said. “I feel better than I did a month ago, and I think I’m taking better at-bats.
“But I’m not satisfied — baseball players are never satisfied.”
Catcher Bryan Holaday, who has played in six games with Detroit this season, also had a pair of hits against the Clippers. Holaday, who now has a six-game hitting streak during which he has gone 8-for-24 (.333), gives the credit to Mud Hens hitting coach Leon “Bull” Durham for his recent success.
“He’s been working really hard with me,” Holaday said of Durham. “We’re working on catching the ball out in front [of the plate] and staying through the ball so I can drive it better.
“And I’m sticking to an aggressive mindset too.”
As a team the Mud Hens had plenty of baserunners against Columbus, getting at least one runner on base in each of the first six innings. But Toledo hit just 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position to lose for the sixth time in eight games.
“We just didn’t string anything together,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said of his offense.
Meanwhile Toledo starter Jair Jurrjens struggled early. He gave up hits to six of the first seven batters he faced as part of a four-run first inning, then gave up a two-out, two-run double to Roberto Perez in the third.
“The ball was up for him,” Nevin said of Jurrjens, who was making just his second start with the Hens. “When you leave the ball up, you’re going to get hit.
“He’s had some time off. … You have to give the guy a few chances to get into a groove.”
The Mud Hens bullpen gave the team a chance to come back, as Robbie Weinhardt pitched 2 2/3 scoreless frames — he now has thrown more than 16 innings without giving up a run — while Kenny Faulk added 2 1/3 scoreless and Jon Link had a 1-2-3 ninth.
“They did a great job,” Holaday said of the bullpen. “Robbie came out and did his job, and Kenny came in and did his job.
“Those two and Link pitched outstanding. They kept us in the ball game.”
NOTES: The Mud Hens added three pitchers to the roster as Evan Reed and Darin Downs were optioned to Toledo by Detroit Sunday — Reed was sent down when Jeremy Bonderman was promoted to the Tigers — and Link came off the temporary inactive list. … The Tigers also announced that Omar Infante will join the Mud Hens today on a rehab assignment when the team begins a series in Columbus. Infante will DH today, then play second base in Wednesday’s contest.