BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
Toledo Mud Hens starting pitcher Jon Link did all he could to earn his first victory of the season on Wednesday night, but the veteran lost a pitchers' duel that went to extra innings at Fifth Third Field.
Link allowed just four hits over seven shutout innings against Indianapolis. Link threw 94 pitches, struck out five, and yielded just two walks. But the Toledo offense also was stifled, managing just five hits.
Indianapolis scratched across one run in the 10th inning to blank the Mud Hens 1-0 before a crowd of 7,746 at Fifth Third Field.
Toledo reliever Jose Ortega walked speedster Darren Ford to start the 10th. Ford then stole second base and advanced to third on the errant throw. Ford then scored on a sac fly.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens vs. Indianapolis Indians
Indianapolis starter Brandon Cumpton allowed only two hits over seven innings, striking out six while yielding only two walks.
“I enjoy battling against the other guy,” Link said. “He had good stuff tonight. It's a personal challenge. You have to be a little more perfect with every pitch because you know one run could be the ball game.”
Mud Hens relievers Darin Downs and Luke Putkonen pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Ortega pitched a scoreless ninth but gave up the unearned run in the 10th.
Link (0-4) made his sixth start and 10th appearance for the Hens after being promoted on July 18. Link, a 29-year-old righty, entered the game with a 6.39 earned run average.
“He's been great,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “He's been a lot better than his numbers [indicate]. He had just one game where it got ugly and we had to leave him in there. He's been a pleasant surprise. He's come in and has given us innings. He's been a big lift. We needed an outing like this. It was a good performance.”
Link, who started the season in Double A Erie, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2005. Link, who was born in Columbus, is in his ninth season in the minors. He scattered the four hits over the seven innings. Toledo is 0-11 in games that Link has appeared.
“That is tough for me,” he said. “I try to give the team the opportunity to win. That's what all starters try to do. I wish I could bring us some luck.”
Toledo was 0 of 9 with runners in scoring position.
“We had chances late in the game with runners in scoring positron, we just didn't get the big hit,” Nevin said.
Toledo could not cash in on golden chance to score in the eighth. Catcher Bryan Holaday led off with a hard single and moved up on a sacrifice. But he was thrown out attempting to steal third.
“It was an aggressive play,” Nevin said. “It's not a bad play. He thought the ball kicked away further [from the catcher]. We preach being aggressive on the bases.”
The Hens then had runners at first and second but could not score.
Danny Worth, Ben Guez, Argenis Diaz, and Hernan Perez also had hits for Toledo.
The teams meet again Thursday night at the downtown ballpark. The Mud Hens have just three more home games this season.
Toledo had won three straight games. The game lasted three hours and six minutes.
NOTES: Longtime Mud Hens broadcaster Jim Weber was honored prior to the game.
During an on-field presentation prior to broadcasting his 5,003rd consecutive game, Weber received a framed jersey with the No. 5,000 on the back, a proclamation, and a key to the city.
Weber was on a makeshift set with fellow broadcaster Matt Melzak for the pre-game show. For 39 seasons Jim Weber has been the voice of the Mud Hens. On Sunday, Weber made history by delivering his 5,000th consecutive broadcast.
No announcer in the 14-team International League has broadcast more of a team's games consecutively than Weber.
Included in a video presentation, were Nevin, Christine Brennan, Nick Vitucci, Mike Bell, Joe Napoli, and Larry Parrish.
Indianapolis (78-61) has already clinched the International League West Division for the second straight season. The Indians clinched on Aug. 24. Toledo fell to 59-80.