The Mud Hens suffered a misleading 11-3 loss to Buffalo at Fifth Third Field on Friday night.
Why was it misleading?
The Bisons bunched together two big innings, including an eight-run, ninth-inning outburst that turned a taut 3-3 tie into a blowout Toledo loss.
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“We pitched seven good innings,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “But in the other two innings, they were scoring so fast it was hard to get a guy loose [to stop them].”
Toledo starter Derek Hankins allowed just one hit through the first five innings, but the wheels fell off for him in the sixth. He walked Ryan Goins to lead off the inning, but Hens left fielder Tyler Collins threw Goins out at third on a single by Andy LaRoche.
That didn’t stop the bleeding, though, as Munenori Kawasaki singled and Kevin Pillar doubled to score LaRoche and send Kawasaki to third. A.J. Jimenez followed with a two-run single, and the Hens’ 3-0 lead evaporated into a 3-3 tie.
“He hadn’t thrown many pitches coming into the sixth,” Parrish said of Hankins. “But he has to pitch low in the [strike] zone and hit his spots.
“In the sixth, for hitter after hitter, the pitches were belt-high. And they were hitting them.”
The game remained tied entering the ninth as Melvin Mercedes began his second inning of relief. He got one out before giving up a long home run to Jared Goedert that broke the tie.
Goins followed with a sharp single, and LaRoche doubled to send Goins to third before Parrish pulled Mercedes in favor of Pat McCoy.
“Melvin threw well against those guys [in Buffalo], and he got them out in the eighth,” Parrish said. “All of a sudden, it was boom, boom, boom!
“And he couldn’t get anybody out.”
But McCoy, who had not allowed a run in his first 10 Mud Hens games, could not get anyone out, either. Well, that’s not entirely true: He gave up singles to Kawasaki and Pillar to score a run before getting A.J. Jimenez on a groundout for the second out of the ninth.
“McCoy has been throwing well for us,” Parrish said. “We were thinking, ‘If we can hold them at two [runs], you have a chance because you can get someone on base and then pop one [for a home run].
“But it just imploded on us.”
The implosion came when Buffalo’s Adron Chambers, batting with runners on second and third with two outs, bunted toward second base. The ball got under the glove of Brandon Douglas, and two more runs scored.
“Not many guys bunt with runners on second and third,” Parrish said. “[Douglas] tried to make a play, and he wasn’t able to do it.
“At that point, the cows may already have been out of barn.”
If they were not out of the barn at that point, they soon were as Buffalo’s bloops and bleeders became blasts. Dan Johnson doubled off the wall in right, and Brad Glenn capped the eight-run inning with a two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard.
The final damage was eight hits in the inning and the largest margin of defeat for the Mud Hens since a 14-2 loss at Syracuse in early May.
“At the end, I was just hoping we could get one more out so I didn’t have to use any more pitchers,” Parrish said.
It was an ugly ending to a game that began with some promise as the Mud Hens built a 3-0 lead. Hernan Perez homered for Toledo in the first, Ezequiel Carrera singled home Douglas — who had doubled — in the third inning, and a Perez double in the fifth brought home Douglas.
While the Hens finished with nine hits, four players — Carrera, Perez, Mike Hessman, and Douglas — accounted for eight of them as each had two hits.
“Nothing was bunched,” Parrish said. “Perez swung the bat well again, but there was a gap between our hits.”
NOTES: Perez has a six-game hit streak in which he has batted .538 with five doubles, a triple, a home run, six RBIs, and six runs scored. … Mud Hens C James McCann celebrated his 24th birthday Friday. … The crowd of 10,300 was the Hens’ ninth sellout this season and 370th full house in Fifth Third Field history.