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Hens' playoff hopes dealt another blow

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Hens' playoff hopes dealt another blow


The Mud Hens' playoff hopes may have taken a fatal blow with Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to Louisville.

But Toledo's second setback in as many games may have been a microcosm of the team's season: a slow start, followed by a strong finish that proved to be too little, too late.

"It was one of those games - a good game where we came up short," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We didn't do the little things, like making a pitch or getting a big hit, and they did. And those are the things that make the difference between a win and a loss."

The key at-bats in the contest came in the eighth inning, when brothers Todd Frazier and Jeff Frazier hit in key situations for their respective teams.

In the top of the eighth, Louisville's Todd Frazier came to the plate with his team leading 1-0, two outs and a runner on second. Mud Hens reliever Casey Fien got ahead of Frazier 0-2 before hanging a curve that Frazier slammed over the left-field fence for his second home run with the Bats.

"We hung a breaking ball on the pitch before, and he fouled it down the first-base line," Parrish said. "We came right back with the same pitch, hung it again, and he hit it."

Those runs proved critical when the Hens rallied in the bottom of the inning. Wilkin Ramirez led off by singling, took second when Scott Sizemore walked, and scored on a single by Don Kelly.

Bats reliever Logan Ondrusek came on and hit Mike Hessman with a pitch to load the bases for Jeff Frazier, who took a strike before grounding into a double play. Sizemore scored, but the twin-killing blunted a rally that ended when Brent Dlugach grounded out.

The early innings last night belonged to the starting pitchers, Toledo's Nate Robertson and Louisville's Matt Klinker.

Robertson was impressive early, throwing 38 of his first 41 pitches for strikes - including his first 16 in a row - while allowing just two hits. He pitched around a one-out triple by Chris Heisey in the first and Heisey's bunt single in the fourth before hitting a rough patch in the sixth.

"Everybody wants to attack the strike zone, but executing is the big thing," Robertson said. "I had all three of my pitches working, and that made things a little bit easier.

"I just got out of sync in the sixth, but I gathered myself."

In that frame Robertson gave up a single to ninth batter Eric Eymann, but picked Eymann off first. That proved to be important when Robertson walked the next two hitters, Luis Bolivar and Heisey, and saw the pair execute a double steal.

Robertson pitched out of that jam by striking out Todd Frazier.

But Klinker was Robertson's equal. He gave up just three hits in 62/3 innings, walking two while fanning seven and retiring 11 straight Hens in the middle innings.

"We couldn't do much off Klinker," Parrish said. "He's got a big, slow curveball to go along with an average fastball, and we're somewhere in between them.

"We got him out of there and got something going, but we just didn't get the hit we needed to tie it up."

The Bats broke the scoreless deadlock with two outs and none on in the seventh when Robertson was relieved by fellow major league rehabber Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman walked Lew Ford, and Chris Valaika drove Ford home with a double off the wall in right.

The loss pushed the Hens 9 1/2 games behind Louisville in the West Division and lowered the Bats' "magic number" to win the division to four. In the Wild Card race, Toledo fell six games behind Durham, whose win at Syracuse left the Hens with a "magic number" of eight.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.


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