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Judging strictly by the numbers, the Mud Hens were in trouble entering Saturday’s game against Rochester.
The Red Wings featured highly regarded starter Alex Meyer, who had a 3.45 ERA and 40 strikeouts in his first six starts, while Toledo’s Drew VerHagen came into the contest with an 0-4 record and 5.65 ERA.
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But VerHagen shut out Rochester through five innings to lead the Hens to a 6-3 victory in front of 11,500 fans at Fifth Third Field.
VerHagen scattered four hits and two walks while Toledo pounded out seven hits and three walks in Meyer’s five innings of work. As a result, the Mud Hens won back-to-back games at home for the first time this season.
“We put some good swings on the ball,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “That’s what we have been preaching to our guys: If the pitching can’t get the breaking ball over, you can’t throw it hard enough.”
Meyer, a 6-foot-9 former first-round draft pick, threw fastballs consistently in the 96-99 mph range — one of his pitches was clocked at 102 mph — but the Mud Hens had no trouble putting his fastball in play.
Tyler Collins opened the second inning by pulling a double down the right-field line, and James McCann followed with a hard liner off Meyer’s leg that bounced to third. When Rochester’s Doug Bernier threw wildly to first, Collins was able to score.
One out later Jordan Lennerton walked to push McCann to second, and Brandon Douglas singled home McCann.
Daniel Fields singled to load the bases, and Lennerton scored on a Trevor Crowe groundout. Meyer followed with a wild pitch that allowed Douglas to trot home, and Hernan Perez hit a grounder to shortstop that was misplayed by Pedro Florimon for an error that plated Fields.
The Hens added a run in the fourth when Lennerton doubled off the wall in right-center, Fields singled, and Crowe lined an RBI single to right.
And while Toledo managed just two hits in four scoreless innings against the Rochester bullpen, VerHagen and the bullpen held the Wings in check.
“VerHagen was attacking the [strike] zone,” Parrish said. “There were still too many pitches scattered. But that was the case for the whole group [of pitchers].
“It wasn’t a well-pitched game, but we won.”
Nate Robertson walked the first batter he faced in the sixth, then gave up a doubled and an RBI single by Doug Bernier before he was bailed out by a double play.
He wasn’t as fortunate in the seventh, though, as he walked two batters while getting two outs. Melvin Mercedes then walked the bases loaded before giving up a single to Chris Herrmann that gave up two runs.
Kevin Whelan struggled with his command in the ninth, walking the bases loaded but striking out the side before allowing any runs to record his fifth save of the year.
NOTES: RHP Corey Knebel was promoted from Double-A Erie and will join the Mud Hens today. Knebel was 3-0 with a save and a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings with the SeaWolves. … OF Ezequiel Carrera was placed on the disabled list because of an oblique strain. … RHP Luke Putkonen is scheduled to make another appearance with the Mud Hens Tuesday. Putkonen is on Detroit’s disabled list with right elbow inflammation. … Saturday’s crowd of 11,500 was the Hens second sellout this season.