Roughly 24 hours after taking a sucker-punch to the gut, the Mud Hens bounced off the canvas Sunday to defeat Columbus 9-2 at Fifth Third Field.
Instead of suffering lingering effects from Saturday’s loss, a game in which the Clippers scored three times in the top of the ninth to deny Toledo a critical win, the Hens scored in four of the first five innings and snapped a two-game losing streak.
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“You’re expecting to win those [games like Saturday], so when you don’t, you can be shell-shocked,” Hens Sunday starter Kyle Lobstein said. “But we put that behind us.
“We realized it was a new day, and that all we could do was put a hurt on them this day.”
The victory moved the Mud Hens to within seven games of the first-place Clippers in the International League’s West Division with 15 games left.
“A win like this one says a lot about this club,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “This team may not have always played well, but it has always played hard. These guys always give you what they have. We may lose, but we won’t lose because of a lack of effort.”
The Hens took the lead on a two-run single by Jordan Lennerton in the second. After the Clippers tied the game in the third, the Mud Hens broke it open with four runs in the bottom of that inning.
Brandon Douglas gave Toledo the lead for good with a home run, his fourth of the season. Andy Dirks then doubled and, one out later, he limped home on a double by Tyler Collins.
With two outs, Mike Hessman walked, and Collins and Hessman scored on a Lennerton double.
The Hens had three singles and took advantage of a Clippers error to score a run in the fourth. Lennerton opened the fifth with a home run to right, his seventh homer of the season, and a two-out single by Hernan Perez scored Daniel Fields.
“I went back to what’s more comfortable for me to simplify the act of hitting,” said Lennerton, who has hit .315 since the All-Star break. “I’m not trying to do too much, putting the barrel of the bat on the ball, and letting the chips fall where they may.”
Lennerton was able to laugh when reminded he needed only a triple to complete a cycle.
“I talked to [Columbus center fielder James] Ramsey, and I told him, ‘If I hit a ball to center, you’d better dive and miss it so I can get a triple,’” he said.
That was more than enough offense for Lobstein, who was effective outside of a third-inning hiccup that saw the Clippers send eight batters to the plate and score twice. He was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam to limit the damage.
“I felt I was making good pitches, but they were managing to put the ball in play,” Lobstein said. “You can’t get discouraged by weak hits; you have to try and stay calm and make those same pitches.”
Lobstein retired the first seven in a row, then retired two straight to end the third. Those outs began a string where he set down 12 of the last 14 batters he faced.
“I thought I did a good job of attacking hitters,” he said. “I established the fastball inside, and that opened up the outside of the plate to me.
“Throwing my fastball for strikes allowed me to go deep in the game.”
NOTES: Dirks re-injured his hamstring running the bases in the third inning and had to leave the game. ... Pitcher Kevin Whelan, who was designated for assignment after Saturday’s game, has cleared waivers and could join the Mud Hens today when the team begins a three-game series in Columbus.