As endings go, the final play in the Mud Hens 4-1 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field Saturday was spectacular, as Toledo turned a game-ending triple play.
The finish was bittersweet for Hens manager Phil Nevin, as the Tigers announced after the game that they were not renewing his contract next season.
“They informed me a couple of days ago that my contract would not be renewed for next season,” Nevin said. “They gave me the option to finish out the entire season, and I chose to finish the home season.
“Now I can go home and watch my sons play baseball this weekend.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to get more photos from Saturday's game
Nevin will be replaced by roving instructor Gene Roof, who managed the team from 1997-99, for the Hens final two games in Columbus today and Monday. Pitching coach A.J. Sager and hitting coach Leon “Bull” Durham will remain through the end of the season.
With Saturday’s victory the Hens are 61-81 this season and will finish fourth in the International League’s West Division. Nevin’s three-year record in Toledo is 192-238.
Dave Owen, Detroit’s director of player development, said Nevin was given the option to complete the season, but Nevin chose to make Saturday’s game his final one with the Hens.
“Discussing this internally, you can’t put all the blame on the manager for the things that have happened with this club," Owen said. "We just felt it was time for a different leadership here in Toledo.”
Nevin declined to talk about whether he felt he was given a fair shot by the Tigers the past three seasons.
“I’ve worked for a great organization for four years,” said Nevin, who managed Erie in 2010 before taking over the Hens the next year. “I’ve made some great friends and build some great relationships, and my staff here was incredible.
“My bosses — Dave Owen, Al Avila, Bill Dancy, and Glenn Ezell, the guy who hired me – have been great people. Those relationships won’t end. But when things don’t get done, they make changes.”
Nevin told his team before the game, and Ben Guez said the meeting was emotional.
“I played for him for three years, and I loved him as a manager," Guez said. "Unfortunately we didn’t put the product on the field we wanted to, but it’s always tough to see a teammate or a staff member let go.
“He will be missed.”
Toledo jumped on top in the first inning when Jordan Lennerton singled and Nick Castellanos slammed a two-run home run.
The Hens added a pair of runs in the fourth on a two-run single by Argenis Diaz, and pitchers Kyle Lobstein and Jose Alvarez made that stand up.
Jeremy Hermida doubled in the ninth, then moved to third on a single by Chun Chen. Ryan Rohlinger hit a fly to left that Gustavo Nunez caught, then threw Hermida out at the plate.
After tagging Hermida out, Hens catcher Bryan Holaday then caught Chen too far off first, and Lennerton tagged him out for Toledo’s first triple play since May 18 of last season.
"We just wanted to give [Nevin] the best game we could for his last game," Castellanos said. "And what a way to end it — with a triple play!”
NOTE: After the game Castellanos, Evan Reed, and Danny Worth were told they were being promoted to Detroit and will join the Tigers today.