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New Mud Hen Salazar homers in road loss

COLUMBUS — Newly acquired Jeff Salazar homered in his debut with Toledo, but it was only run the Mud Hens could generate in a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park on Monday.

The Clippers got out to an early 1-0 lead in the first when former big leaguer Nick Johnson blooped an RBI single into center. Johnson is trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2010 season, but the Cleveland Indians are hopeful he can contribute to the big league club later this season.

Jerad Head dropped another RBI single into center field in the second inning to extend the Columbus lead to 2-0.

Shelly Duncan, who was a big contributor to the Indians early in the season, tacked on the Clippers’ third run in the third with his own RBI single to left, but those were the only runs given up by Brayan Villarreal, who left after seven innings.

Salazar, who was picked up after being released by the Rockies earlier this month, kept the Clippers lead at 3-0 by making a running catch that took him all the way to the right-center field wall.

Ryan Perry, on rehab assignment from Detroit, had another impressive relief appearance. Perry hurled a scoreless eighth and also struck out a batter.

The Hens had just two hits heading into the ninth, then Salazar led off the frame by hammering a drive off the right-field scoreboard to cut the lead to 3-1.

Then with one out, another rehabbing Tiger, Brandon Inge, lined a single to left. Following a couple of wild pitches to Ryan Strieby, Inge advanced to third. Strieby then walked. However, on the first pitch, Bryan Pounds ended the game by grounding into a double play.

Scott Barnes (6-1) got the victory for Columbus (48-23), pitching seven scoreless innings. Justin Germano got the save after relieving Carlton Smith in the ninth.

New Mud Hen Salazar homers in road loss - Toledo Blade

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Inge hits 2 HRs, but Mud Hens still lose

COLUMBUS -- Brandon Inge had an impressive game for the Mud Hens, going 2 for 4 with two solo home runs, but it wasn't enough against the Columbus Clippers, losing 4-3.

The Clippers won for the 13th time in the last 14 games.

Hens' starter Duane Below (6-4) was tagged with his fourth loss of the season after allowing four runs in six innings.

Inge, on a rehabilitation assignment from Detriot, helped the Hens (30-43) gain a one-run lead in the top of the third, thanks to his first solo home run with Toledo, a shot into the left-field bleachers.

The Hens added another run when Cale Iorg scored on a throwing error in the fifth by Jason Kipnis.

Kipnis, wanting to turn a double play, flipped it to second, but the ball ended up in left field as Clippers shortstop Jason Donald was not in a position to receive the ball.

From there, the Clippers (49-23) battled back.

Columbus' Jerad Head hit a solo shot in the fifth to make the score 2-1. Head clubbed a solo home run to deep left-center field to cut the Mud Hen lead in half

The Clippers then took a 4-2 lead in the sixth after Shelley Duncan launched a three-run homer.

Inge's second homer came in the eighth and pushed the Mud Hens within one of Columbus. It snuck just right inside the left field foul pole and it was back to a one run affair.

Toledo could not muster another run and were quietly put away in the ninth, en route its to 43rd loss of the season. The last-place Hens are 19 1/2 games behind Columbus in the International League West Division.

Josh Judy came on in the ninth and got his 11th save of the season for Columbus.

The game was delayed by one hour because of rain.

Columbus' Zach McAlister (8-2) went seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on one hit while striking out six and walking three. Below was victimized by the long ball as all four of the runs he gave up came via a home run.

Clippers right-hander Corey Kluber (4-4) will face Mud Hens starter Thad Weber (3-6) Wednesday night in Toledo.

Inge hits 2 HRs, but Mud Hens still lose - Toledo Blade

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Columbus clobbers Hens in late innings




Toledo catcher Omir Santos tags out Columbus Clippers' Jerad Head (13) in the third inning Wednesday. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints Brandon Inge continued his rehabilitation assignment with the Mud Hens Wednesday night, going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks in Toledo's 13-7 loss to Columbus at Fifth Third Field.

Will he return Thursday night when the Hens host the Clippers?

"The Tigers have an off day [Thursday], so either I will take an off day before joining them on Friday, or I will play another game here and then join them Friday," Inge said before the game. "But I feel fine now and I need to be there. I can help out. Friday is the day I know I can get back. I am ready."

Inge developed a case of mononucleosis that forced him onto Detroit's disabled list on June 3.

"I probably could have played through this -- the day I went on the disabled list, I was still playing," Inge said. "But I will say that strength was a bit of an issue for the first couple of games, that and timing. It's hard to tell which is more important.

"But it is pretty crucial that I did this [rehab stint] and took as long as I have. My timing is getting back and my strength is coming back and I am putting on weight again. So, this has been beneficial."

Wednesday night Inge drew a walk and scored in the first, then popped out to the catcher in foul territory in the second. He lined out to left in the fourth, then hit a single down the third-base line in the sixth before walking in the eighth.


Mud Hens manger Phil Nevin argues a call in the fourth inning with home-plate umpire Jeff Gosney. Nevin was ejected from the game. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints Inge is hitting .250 with three home runs in his seven Toledo games, much better than his .211 batting average with one home run and 12 RBIs in 52 games for the Tigers.

"I am not going to blame [those numbers] on the sickness," he said. "I will take full responsibility. My numbers are what they are. I didn't do well, though I did produce some RBIs.

"But the home run thing started to get to me. I was like, 'OK, I can hit home runs pretty easily. I don't have to try. I can flick them out easy. I am strong enough to do it.' But it was getting hard for me to drive a ball a long ways. I was weak."

It was the sixth loss in a row for the Mud Hens, who fell 20 1/2 games behind the first-place Clippers in the IL West Division.

Toledo scored twice in the first inning but didn't take full advantage of a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Columbus counted with a five-run third inning that featured a two-run triple by Lonnie Chisenhall and a three-run homer by Luis Valbuena.

The Hens got a run in the bottom of the third, which the Clippers matched in the top of the fourth, only to see Toledo score three more in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game, thanks largely to a two-run single by Jeff Salazar.

The Mud Hens took the lead in the fifth on a home run by Cale Iorg, his fourth this season. But Columbus retired the game in the seventh, then took the lead with three runs in the eighth as Chisenhall hammered a three-run homer off Matt Hoffman. The Clippers added three insurance runs off Lester Oliveros.

Chisenhall was 4-for-6 in the game with a homer, triple, and two singles while scoring twice and driving in six RBIs.

NOTES: Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin was ejected in top of the fourth inning by home-plate umpire Jeff Gosney, and Clippers second baseman Jason Kipnis was ejected for arguing a third strike in the ninth. ... The Tigers announced that LHP Adam Wilk has been optioned to Toledo, but did not announce who would be called up. Ryan Perry, who is expected to replace Wilk on Detroit's roster, faced four batters in the seventh and retired only one, giving up the game-tying run. ... Wednesday's crowd of 10,300 was a sellout, the Mud Hens' sixth this season. ... The start of the game was delayed 18 minutes by rain and took 3:42 to play, making it the longest nine-inning game, time-wise, Toledo has played this season.

Columbus clobbers Hens in late innings - Toledo Blade

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International League's best on display for Toledo

Columbus hands Hens 7th straight loss




Toledo first baseman Ryan Strieby tries to tag Columbus Clippers' Ezequiel Carrera (7) on a dive back in the first inning Thursday. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

There were some stark contrasts presented in the Mud Hens' 6-0 loss to Columbus at Fifth Third Field Thursday night.

On one hand there was Toledo, which suffered its fourth straight defeat to the Clippers and seventh in a row overall.

That setback dropped the Hens' season record to 30-45, a mark that is better than only one International League team: Norfolk, which lost Thursday night to fall to 29-44, percentage points worse than the Hens.

On the other is Columbus, which won its fifth straight game and 14th of its last 15 to improve to 51-23 on the season.

No team in professional baseball has more victories than the Clippers.

Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said part of the reason for the Clippers success has been their ability to keep key players together for the whole season so far.

"When you can keep a team together, that's huge in the minor leagues," Nevin said. "They've got a lot of good players in their farm system, getting good young players in trades, and they have some good draft picks reach this level in guys like [Lonnie] Chisenhall and [Jason] Kipnis.

"The big-league team in Cleveland has been playing well, and [Columbus] hasn't had to send a lot of key players up. That's a recipe for success at this level."

Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said the Clippers have benefitted from the success their parent club in Cleveland has enjoyed this year.

"That has helped with our continuity, and in the clubhouse," Sarbaugh said. "But we had success last year despite having a lot of movement.

"I think any time your big-league club has success, it helps to keep the Triple-A team intact, and that has helped with our success."


Columbus’ Jason Kipnis gets a hit Thursday. The Indians’ prospect was 1 for 4 with an RBI in the Clippers victory. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

It doesn't hurt that the Clippers have two of the IL's top pitchers in Zach McAllister, and Thursday night's starter, Jeanmar Gomez, as well as highly regarding hitting prospects such as Chisenhall, who had eight RBI in the past two games, and Kipnis, whose triple in the first inning Thursday night was the key ingredient in a two-run rally.

"We do have a lot of talent at this level, so that helps," Sarbaugh said. "But we also have depth, and that's a key in Triple-A. When you have a lot of movement, the player who comes in has to fill in well for the player who leaves, and we've been fortunate to have that.

"But our recent success has been because our starting pitching has really been solid."

Gomez was impressive Thursday night, shutting out the Mud Hens on five hits and four walks in eight innings. He didn't allow a Toledo baserunner to reach second until there were two outs in the fourth, and no Hen advanced to third until reliever Nick Hagadone loaded the bases in the ninth.

"That's 15 innings he has shut us out this season when you include the opening day doubleheader," Nevin said of Gomez. "He throws a lot of strikes and gets a lot of ground balls when he needs them. We didn't take many good swings off him, I know that."

Meanwhile the Clippers scored twice in the first off Toledo starter Enrique Gonzalez, who walked five in 4⅔ innings. Gonzalez walked leadoff man Ezequiel Carrera, who raced around the bases to score on the one-out triple by Kipnis. Kipnis came home on a sacrifice fly by Chisenhall.

Gonzalez and reliever L.J. Gagnier followed a Carrera's leadoff single in the fifth by walking the next four hitters to give Columbus two more runs.

The Clippers strung together three hits to score a run off Gagnier in the sixth, and reliever Jose Ortega walked the first batter he faced in the eighth before giving up three hits -- two of the infield variety -- to plate the game's final run.

The trio of Toledo pitchers combined for eight walks.

"They got some runs from the walks, and that's been the case the last few nights," Nevin said. "I expect that we will learn from that and come out and throw strikes.

"We ran into a good arm, and when we feel behind early that usually doesn't work out very well."

NOTES: LHP Adam Wilk rejoined the Mud Hens Thursday and should be activated Friday night when Toledo opens a four-game series with Louisville at Fifth Third Field. Wilk is expected to replace Gonzalez in the Toledo rotation and start Tuesday in Columbus. ... Major League Baseball conducted random drug testing on those Mud Hens on Detroit's 40-man roster before Thursdsay's game. ... Brandon Inge returned to Detroit Thursday and the Tigers sent infielder Danny Worth back to the Hens. Worth is expected to join Toledo Friday night as it begins a four-game series with Louisville at Fifth Third Field.

International League's best on display for Toledo - Toledo Blade

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Louisville, Willis hand Hens a loss

Worth, Thomas homer for Toledo




Louisville’s Dontrelle Willis — no stranger to Mud Hens’ fans — earned the win Friday night at Fifth Third Field, striking out seven. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Louisville starter in the Bats’ 5-4 win over the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field Friday night was a familiar face.

Lefty Dontrelle Willis, who pitched for the Hens in parts of the 2008 and ‘09 seasons, and also spent much of three years with Detroit, threw eight solid innings Friday to beat Toledo for the third time this season.

If Willis took pleasure in handing the Hens their eighth consecutive loss, though, he didn’t show it.

“I have a lot of friends over there,” Willis said of the Mud Hens clubhouse. “I was in Toledo more than I was in Detroit, and I enjoyed my time in Toledo.

“I definitely like the ballpark, and I like the organization. And I like playing against them.”

In his three starts against the Hens this season, the 29-year-old has allowed just 20 hits and three walks in 28 innings, striking out 23 and posting a 2.00 ERA. But Willis hasn’t picked on the Hens exclusively this season; the southpaw is 5-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 12 starts for Louisville and ranks among the International League’s ERA leaders.

“I like the way I’m playing baseball right now,” Willis said. “I haven’t played this type of baseball in a long time.

“Hats off to [Cincinnati general manager] Walt Jocketty and [Reds manager] Dusty Baker for making me feel at home; they gave me a chance to start again. And our manager here, Rick Sweet, and our pitching coach, Ted Power, are great guys that you can learn a lot from.”

Sweet likes the effort he has received from Willis this season.

“Every game Dontrelle has pitched, he has pitched aggressively and kept us in the ball game,” Sweet said. “He’s a character on the mound, so he’s fun to watch, but he’s also been a great teammate. And he is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had.

“He’s been the most consistent starter we’ve had all year.”


The Mud Hens' Ryan Strieby slides in safely while Louisville catcher Devin Mesoraco fields the ball. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin has been impressed with what he has seen from the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Willis this year.

“He’s throwing strikes,” Nevin said of Willis.

“He has that confidence back that he had when he was pitching well in the big leagues.

“As a fan of Dontrelle — and I am one — it’s good to see that. He’s good for the game, and I really hope he gets a chance to pitch again in the big leagues — hopefully before we play them again.”

Friday night the Mud Hens had more success against Willis than they did five days ago in Louisville, when the lefty allowed just three hits and one run in seven strong innings.

“We took some good at-bats against him,” Nevin said. “We didn’t change anything; we just took better swings.”

Danny Worth homered off Willis in the first, and Clete Thomas smacked a home run in the third. Toledo also got single runs in the fourth and sixth largely thanks to doubles by Ryan Strieby, who doubled and scored on a single by Jeff Salazar in the fourth before driving in Ben Guez with his two-base hit in the sixth.

“I was really impressed with the way the Mud Hens battled,” Willis said. “They are a bunch of guys playing hard. After seeing them five days ago, I was impressed with all the adjustments they made.”

The Bats claimed the victory thanks in large part to their offense, which cranked out three home runs against Andy Oliver in the first sixth innings, then found a way to manufacture the winning run in the seventh off Brad Thomas.

The seventh-inning rally featured a walk, a hit batsman and a single to load the bases before Thomas walked Yonder Alonso to force home the winning run.

“That’s baseball,” Nevin said. “Winning close baseball games is about the small execution things. And throwing strikes is an important part of that.

“They didn’t walk anybody, and we walked five. And that’s probably the difference in this game.”

NOTES: Worth came to the Hens from Detroit, who optioned him back to Toledo after activating Brandon Inge Thursday. ... The Hens have lost three in a row at home and are 10-27 at Fifth Third Field this season. ... Friday night’s crowd of 9,673 was the Hens’ seventh sellout this season.

Louisville, Willis hand Hens a loss - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens drop ninth straight contest despite fighting start

Toledo falls to 10-28 at Fifth Third




Toledo third baseman Danny Worth fights off the fans to make a catch in the stands during the first inning. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens kept pace with visiting Louisville at Fifth Third Field for two innings Saturday night.

But the Hens eventually were buried in a four-run fifth-inning avalanche, and suffered a 9-2 loss to the Bats in front of 11,000 fans.

The setback was Toledo’s ninth in a row, and fifth straight home loss, dropping the Hens’ home record this season to 10-28.

The Bats jumped in front with a pair of runs in the first inning off Hens starter Brayan Villarreal. Zack Cozart opened the game with an infield hit, then moved to second on a walk to Yonder Alonso. With two outs Juan Francisco hit a line drive to deep left that a fan touched just below the home-run fence for a ground-rule double that scored Cozart.

With runners on second and third, Villarreal threw a wild pitch that scored Alonso.

Toledo got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first when Will Rhymes turned on a fastball by Chad Reineke and slammed it off the buildings behind the right-field fence for his second home run of the season.

Louisville scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the second when Todd Frazier drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a groundout by Chris Valaika, and scored on a groundout by Kristopher Negron.

The Hens retaliated with another home run in the second when Clete Thomas pounded his seventh homer of the second — and second in as many nights. Thomas and Rhymes combined for four of Toledo’s six hits on the night.

That was all the offense the Mud Hens would muster off Reineke as the Ayersville High School product allowed six hits and two walks in six innings, while striking out one to improve to 6-4 on the season. The win was Reineke’s first for the Bats since May 22 this season.

Louisville’s bullpen retired nine Hens in order, with Tom Cochran covering two innings, striking out two, while Justin Lehr closing the door with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Meanwhile Villarreal’s wildness resulted in another run for the Bats in the fourth when, with two outs and no one on, the right-hander walked Frazier and hit Valaika with a pitch before Negron singled home Frazier.

Louisville broke the game open with a four-run fifth that knocked Villarreal out of the game. With one out Jeremy Hermida singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double by Devin Mesoraco.

Francisco hammered a two-run home run to straight-away centerfield, his eighth with the Bats this season, and Danny Dorn followed with his 13th homer, another long shot to deep center that ended Villarreal’s day.

Villarreal allowed seven hits, three walks, a hit batsman, and also had a pair of wild pitches that resulted in eight earned runs.

Louisville’s final run came in the seventh off Toledo reliever Fu-Te Ni as Hermida led off with a double, stolen third, and came home on a sacrifice fly by Mesoraco.

Hermida, Mesoraco, and Francisco each had two hits to lead the Bats, with both Mesoraco and Francisco collecting a pair of extra-base hits.

NOTES: Outfielder Timo Perez rejoined the Mud Hens Saturday and was reinstated to the active roster. Outfielder Deik Scram was demoted to Double-A Erie to make room for Perez on the Hens’ ro

Mud Hens drop ninth straight contest despite fighting start - Toledo Blade

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Hens end 9-game losing streak

Toledo gets solid pitching, timely hitting




Duane Below cruised after throwing 28 pitches in the first inning. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

There was music blaring in the Mud Hens clubhouse last night, which hasn't been happening lately. And there was P.F. Chang's for the postgame spread, an unexpected treat courtesy of Brad Thomas, the Detroit pitcher who is nearing the end of his rehab assignment with Toledo.

Yes, life is much better for the Hens when they win, which they did last night by claiming a 4-2 victory over Louisville at Fifth Third Field.

The win snapped the Mud Hens' nine-game losing streak as well as a five-game string of losses at Fifth Third Field.

"We were getting frustrated, and that builds on you," Hens second baseman Will Rhymes admitted. "This is more fun after the game. The cloud has been lifted."

Sunday's victory was built by good play in all three phases in the game.

On offense, the Hens got several clutch hits, going 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position. On the mound, starter Duane Below and relievers Brendan Wise and Lester Oliveros limited the Bats, who entered the game with the top team batting average in the International League, to two runs on five hits. And the defense was flawless while turning a pair of double plays.

"That was a nice win," Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. "We got a good pitching performance and played good defense, and we got some good hits when we needed them.

"Overall it was just a good game."

The Hens broke on top with a pair of runs in the third off Louisville starter Travis Wood, who was making his first start for the Bats after starting 16 times for Cincinnati. With one out, Jeff Salazar and Argenis Diaz singled to get the rally going, and Rhymes and Danny Worth each followed with an RBI hit.

Toledo scored a run in the fifth when Diaz and Rhymes collected back-to-back doubles, and the Hens added a run in the sixth when Ben Guez doubled, then scored on a single by Clete Thomas.

"We've been getting guys on base, but we've been coming up short with the hits for RBIs," Rhymes said. "We didn't score a ton of runs, but we got a couple of big hits early to give ourselves a lead."

Meanwhile, Below threw 28 pitches in the first inning but settled down quickly.

He retired eight in a row following a first-inning walk and didn't allow a hit until the fifth.

"I was amped up in the first inning -- maybe a little too amped up," Below admitted. "After I got out of that, I talked to [pitching coach] A.J. Sager and he said I needed to slow everything down and attack the strike zone.

"As soon as I got into that attack mode, I had some success."

Louisville finally broke through to score a pair of two-out runs against Below in the sixth as Dave Sappelt singled, Jeremy Hermida doubled, and both baserunners scored on a single by Devin Mesoraco. Below walked Todd Frazier but got Juan Francisco to ground out to end the inning.

Wise retired the Bats without incident in the seventh, his sixth consecutive scoreless outing, and Oliveros held Louisville off the scoreboard in the final two innings to record his fifth save and start the fun in the Toledo clubhouse.

The next step for the Mud Hens: beating the Bats today, when the four-game series concludes with a noon start.

That isn't as simple as it seems, as Toledo is looking to win home games on consecutive days for just the second time all season.

"Well, we'll enjoy this one for a little while, and then we'll see about the next one," Nevin said.

NOTES: The Mud Hens aren't the only team that ate well over the weekend. Yesterday, former Hen and Tiger Dontrelle Willis purchased steaks and wings from Outback Steakhouse for his current Louisville teammates. ... Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Lakeland, Fla., today. If things progress well, Guillen could potentially join the Mud Hens in the near future.

Hens end 9-game losing streak - Toledo Blade

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Revitalized Weber leads Hens to 2nd straight win




Toledo's Thad Weber came into Monday's afternoon's game winless at Fifth Third Field this season, but he limited Louisville to two runs in seven innings before a sold-out crowd as the Mud Hens beat the Bats for the second straight game. He is 4-6 on the season. THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Fifth Third Field was starting to become a personal house of horrors for Thad Weber.

The Mud Hens right-hander entered Monday's game with an 0-5 record and 8.93 ERA in nine home starts this season, in sharp contrast to his 3-1 record and 3.26 ERA on the road.

But Monday Weber started turning those numbers around, holding Louisville in check over seven innings to lead the Hens to a 7-2 victory in front of 10,300 fans. Weber allowed just two runs on seven hits to the International League's best offense while striking out five to pitch Toledo to its second straight win.

"This was a long time coming for me," Weber said. "I've always been confident, and I've always felt my stuff is good enough. It's just been a matter of being consistent [with my pitches].

"Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come."

Weber said he tried to change his mind-set about pitching at home, but that positive outlook was challenged quickly when the game's first hitter, Zack Cozart, blooped a single to left and then stole second. Weber quickly got back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to quell the threat.

"I thought I was much better mentally here at home than I had been in a long time," Weber said. "I felt I stayed within myself. When things got a little sticky, I tried to slow myself down and make pitches to get myself out of the inning.

"I tried to be aggressive. They are an aggressive hitting team, so I tried to throw more breaking balls and off-speed."

Weber stranded a pair of baserunners in the second and held Louisville hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"His breaking ball was very good," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "He knew when to go to it, which was important, but he got ahead of hitters and threw strikes.

"And what I liked was that, when he faced adversity -- when he didn't get a call on a pitch, or he gave up that home run -- he bounced right back and punched back. It was good to see that."

The home run came in the fourth off the bat of Todd Frazier, who followed a single by Yonder Alonso with his 14th homer of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

"In the past, when Frazier hits that home run -- on what I thought was a pretty good pitch -- I might have let that take me out of what I was trying to do," Weber admitted. "And things would snowball from there.

"When Frazier hit the home run, I tried to jump right back in there, be aggressive, and put that behind me."

Meanwhile the Mud Hens offense pounded out 14 hits, including three by Timo Perez. Perez had gone 1-for-14 since returning to the team on Saturday after leaving on June 19 to be with his son, who had surgery in the Dominican Republic.

Monday Perez had a run-scoring groundout in the first, then slammed his fifth home run of the season off the buildings behind the right-field fence in the third. In the seventh he keyed a two-run rally with a double that scored Danny Worth; Jeff Salazar pinch-ran for Perez and scored on a double by Ryan Strieby.

"He brings a lot to this lineup, but he also brings a lot to this [clubhouse]," Nevin said of Perez. "We missed that for a week.

"Thankfully his son is doing well, and we're happy to have him back. He brings energy to the room, and for a guy who has played in the big leagues to do what he does rubs off on guys.

"But the at-bats he takes rub off on guys too. And that's been evident the past two days."

NOTES: Tigers pitcher Brad Thomas continued his rehab assignment by striking out all three batters he faced in the eighth. Nevin said Thomas will pitch again Tuesday when the Hens play at Columbus, and his status will be reassessed after that appearance. ... Monday's crowd was the Mud Hens' ninth sellout this season and the 277th in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field.

Revitalized Weber leads Hens to 2nd straight win - Toledo Blade

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Solo shots doom Hens; snap 2-game win streak

COLUMBUS -- The Mud Hens had a two-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night as they fell to the first-place Columbus Clippers 5-4.

The game was a wild affair that included two ejections and six home runs.

Although there was no scoring in the first inning, that it didn't mean that the beginning of the game lacked excitement.

In the bottom of the first with one out, the Clippers (53-26) Jason Donald hit a routine groundball to Hens third baseman Danny Worth. Worth misfired his throw to first baseman Ryan Strieby.

At first, it appeared that Strieby made a tremendous stretch to save Worth from making an error. The Clippers first base coach Lee May argued the call and was ejected from the game. However, after the ejection, the umpires changed the ruling the on the field and decided that Donald was safe. The overturned call sent Toledo manager Phil Nevin in a fury. Nevin was ejected from the game -- his third time this seasont.

Columbus catcher Paul Phillips broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the third with a solo home run into the left-field bleachers. Jason Kipnis slammed a solo shot of his own into the right-field scoreboard.

Toledo's (32-48) Adam Wilk gave up his third solo homer of the game in the fourth to give Columbus a three-run advantage.

L.J. Gagnier continued Wilk's trend of giving up solo bombs as Kipnis belted his second.

Worth got the Hens back into the game when he sliced a three-run homer over the right-centerfield fence. In the top seventh, Strieby crushed a solo homer well over the centerfield wall.

After Strieby's home run, the Hens could not muster up one more run to tie the game.

Solo shots doom Hens; snap 2-game win streak - Toledo Blade

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Clippers bombard Mud Hens, jump on Oliver early for 9 runs

The Toledo Mud Hens were roughed up Wednesday, as they fell to the Columbus Clippers, 12-4.

The win marks the 10th in 12 games against the Hens.

The Hens' Jeff Salazar went 3-5 with a solo homer. Andy Oliver (5-6) took the loss as he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in three innings of work.

The Clippers (54-26) jumped out early on the Hens, 3-0, in the first inning after an Oliver wild pitch that scored Ezequiel Carrera, a RBI single and a RBI groundout.

Columbus tacked on two more runs in the home half of the third when Luis Valbuena took Oliver deep on a two-run home run. Valbuena is hitting .355 with 7 home runs and 24 RBIs this month.

Scott Thorman got the Mud Hens (32-49) on the board in the fourth with a solo dinger -- his 12th of the season -- that put Toledo within four at 5-1.

In the fourth, the Clippers added four more with three straight infield singles.

Oliver was pulled after he allowed eight earned runs. The Hens allowed another run on a sacrifice fly to fall behind, 9-1.

Outfielder Tim Fedroff contributed with his first home run as a Clipper -- a two run shot in the fifth off lefty Fu-Te Ni.

Fedroff finished with three RBI on the day and was a triple shy of the cycle.

Columbus extended its lead to 12-1 on a RBI double in the sixth.

Toledo answered with two runs in the seventh as Ben Guez doubled in Jeff Salazar, and a Ryan Strieby sacrifice fly scored Guez to make the score 12-3. It was Guez's 10th double on the year.

Salazar homered in the ninth but Toledo couldn't produce any more offense. The Clippers' Jason Kipnis went 3-4 with three runs scored and 2 RBI. David Huff (8-2) went six innings, allowing one run off four hits and striking out seven.

The series returns to Toledo at 7 Thursday night in Fifth Third Field, with the Hens sending outBrayan Villarreal (0-5, 4.41) against Scott Barnes (6-2, 3.63).

Clippers bombard Mud Hens, jump on Oliver early for 9 runs - Toledo Blade

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Gagnier shines on short notice but Hens fall

Game marks 50th loss of season for Toledo




Columbus shortstop Luis Valbuena turns a double play as Toledo's Ben Guez slides into second base in the third inning of Thursday night's game at Fifth Third Field, where the teams will meet again Friday night. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

L.J. Gagnier suffered the loss in the Mud Hens' 6-2 defeat at the hands of Columbus at Fifth Third Field Thursday night.But Gagnier deserved a much better fate, based on his performance and the circumstances he faced.

The Tigers promoted Thursday's expected starter, Brayan Villarreal, before the game. And with a Toledo bullpen that had been forced to pitch nine innings the previous two days, there weren't many pitching options available.

But Gagnier did more than pitch six innings for the Hens: He allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out seven.

"He was great -- he was exactly what we needed," Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "We were thin [in the bullpen], and he was great.

"He even asked to go back out for another inning, but he kept us in the game and just did a great job."

Gagnier, who had been pitching out of the Hens' bullpen since the middle of June, didn't have much time to prepare for the spot start.

"I found out Wednesday night around 11:30 that I was starting," he said. "I had a little advance notice to get physically and mentally ready for it.

"I tried to go about this start the same way I did the 30 starts I've had here before. I was pretty successful here last year, and even though I struggled in my first three starts here [this year], I just tried to get back on track and do what I know I'm capable of doing."

The right-hander didn't allow a Columbus runner past second base until the fourth, when Jerad Head hit his 11th home run of the season. The Clippers' other run came in the sixth when Gagnier walked Tim Fedroff, gave up a hit-and-run single by Paul Phillips that pushed Fedroff to third, and surrendered a bunt single by Ezequiel Carrera that scored the run.

"I threw more off-speed pitches than fastballs, and I was able to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes," Gagnier said. "Whenever you're able to do that, it keeps the hitters off-balance and makes your fastball better.

"I thought my fastball was more deceptive, and I was successful by throwing off-speed for strikes."

The Clippers broke the game open with a four-run seventh off Hens reliever Matt Hoffman. Columbus loaded the bases on Hoffman with no one out, and back-to-back groundouts scored two runs. Jason Kipnis hit a two-out double to plate the other two runs.

"The hits were soft, but the walk hurt," Nevin said of Hoffman's inning.

"It's just a hiccup for Matt. He'll come back and pitch well for us again, I'm sure."

Those six runs were too much for the Mud Hens' offense to overcome against Clippers starter Scott Barnes. The lefty allowed just a single by Ben Guez in the third and a walk to Ryan Strieby in the fifth before Toledo managed two runs against him in the eighth. An error opened the door for the rally, which was capped by a two-run double by Clete Thomas.

Barnes improved to 7-2 this season and now has a 3.40 ERA after giving up just three hits and one earned run in his 7⅓ innings.

"His numbers are where they are at for a reason," Nevin said of Barnes. "He's made a lot of improvements since I saw him last year.

"I had a couple of guys tell me it was hard to pick up the ball, and I'm sure it is with his delivery. He threw a great game."

NOTES: The Tigers called up RHP Lester Oliveros from the Mud Hens before the game. Toledo will receive LHP Chance Ruffin from Double-A Erie to take Oliveros' spot. Ruffin was one of the Tigers' top draft choices last season. ... The Clippers had a bathrobe with "Lewis" and the number 50 on it in the dugout in honor of Jensen Lewis. The former Indians reliever was released June 23 by the Clippers. Columbus has a 3-0 record when the bathrobe is in the dugout.

Gagnier shines on short notice but Hens fall - Toledo Blade

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With Guillen in lineup, Hens defeat Columbus




Carlos Guillen scores in the sixth as Columbus pitcher Zach McAllister watches. The Hens halted a 7-game losing streak to the Clippers. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens added a new second baseman to the roster Friday.

The hope is that soon Detroit will be able to insert that second baseman, Carlos Guillen, into its everyday lineup to help the Tigers push for a Central Division title.

Guillen, who was 1 for 4 in the Hens' 3-1 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field, is rehabbing from microfracture surgery on his left knee. While that injury that has kept him off the field since last August, Guillen said he is close to returning to the Tigers.

"I feel good -- really good," he said before the game. "I'm very excited to get back on the field and play some games.

"It was hard [to not play for so long]. It was a long recovery, and to not play every day was tough."

Guillen hopes to play second base for the Mud Hens on a daily basis as he prepares for the grind that awaits him the rest of this season. His rehab began four days ago in Hi-A Lakeland, where he went .200 with two RBIs; in his last game with the Flying Tigers, Guillen went 2 for 5 with a pair of doubles, and collected both of his RBIs.

"We've got to go step by step," Guillen said. "I think [coming back] after the all-star break is the goal. I need to get some at-bats -- I've gone nine or 10 months without facing a pitcher.

"The best way to help the Tigers is to be 100 percent mentally and physically. Game speed is a little bit different, but right now I feel great."

Guillen had a single in the Mud Hens' two-run rally in the sixth, pushing Will Rhymes into scoring position for a run-scoring single by Scott Thorman. Guillen moved to third on Thorman's hit and scored on a single by Jeff Salazar.

He also moved well to snag a groundout by the Clippers' Jared Goedert in the fifth and showed good movement overall.

"It's nice to see him moving around well," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Guillen. "It's just timing and repetitions with him, getting that feel back. And then he'll be fine."

While Guillen is itching to return to the Tigers, he admitted that even playing minor-league games for the first time in 10 months has been rewarding.

"I've missed this -- a lot," Guillen admitted. "Sitting on the couch every day watching TV isn't easy.

"[The recovery process] has been tough, but I've got to keep my head up. I've been through this before, so I know to be patient. If you stay consistent with your rehab, you'll get good results."

The Mud Hens' sixth-inning rally broke up a scoreless pitchers duel between Zach McAllister of Columbus, who was selected to pitch in the Triple-A All-Star Game, and Toledo's Duane Below, who was not.

But Below got the better of the all-star, allowing just four hits in seven shutout innings to improve to 8-4 with a 3.18 ERA.

"I'm a little disappointed he didn't get picked to pitch in the All-Star Game," Nevin said of Below. "If you look at his numbers, they compare with the guys who are going, and that's a credit to him.

"For me, to come back [from his injury in 2009] and throw as well as he has -- throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, pitching to contact, and keeping the team in the game -- is a credit to the way he has pitched this season."

Below said he tried not to think about pitching against an all-star in McAllister.

"I had to do my job before I could worry about what he was doing," Below said. "Our guys were able to get some runs on the board and give us the win."

Below allowed just one Clipper to reach second base until the seventh, when he ran into his toughest jam. A passed ball on a strikeout and a single put runners on first and second with one out, but Below escaped trouble by getting a pair of popouts.

"We had just scored two runs, so I told myself I needed to just keep doing what I was doing," Below said. "I knew I had to attack the strike zone, because some times I get away from that.

"I tried to get ahead of the hitters and force them to put the ball in play. And we got the job done."

Chance Ruffin, who joined the Mud Hens from Double-A Erie before the game, allowed just one unearned run in the final two innings to claim his first Triple-A save.

NOTES: Friday's win snapped a string of three straight losses and seven consecutive setbacks against Columbus. ... The game was played before a crowd of 9,024 for the Mud Hens' 10th sellout this season and fifth sellout in the last eight home games. ... Tigers pitcher Brad Thomas is expected to rejoin the Hens soon and continue his rehab from elbow trouble. Thomas was supposed to pitch in Columbus Tuesday but instead experienced discomfort and returned to Detroit. ... Outfielder Ben Guez was not in yesterday's lineup after leaving Thursday's game with shoulder troubles. Guez did enter the contest as a late-inning pinch runner and defensive replacement.

With Guillen in lineup, Hens defeat Columbus - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens fall in 12th




Third base umpire Gerard Ascani calls Indianapolis' Jordy Mercer (19) out after Matt Hague (26) was chased back by the Hens' Max St-Pierre. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Indianapolis scored a run in the top of the 12th inning to hand the Mud Hens a 4-3 loss at Fifth Third Field on Saturday.

The Indians scored off Toledo reliever Jose Ortega in the 12th when, with two outs and no one on base, Brian Friday, drew a walk, raced around the bases on a double to the wall in right-center off the bat of John Bowker.

Bowker had struck out in four of his five previous plate appearances in the game, but came through in his last at-bat to send the Hens to their fourth loss in the last five games.

Clay High School product Justin Thomas retired the Hens in order in the 12th to earn his third save of the year.

The Mud Hens jumped to a first-inning lead when their first batter, Will Rhymes, singled and raced to third as Timo Perez hit a fly ball down the right-field that seemed poised to hook foul, but instead hooked back towards center -- and off the glove of Miles Durham for a double.

With the infield back, Carlos Guillen hit a grounder to second that scored Rhymes and pushed Perez to third, and Perez trotted home on a single by Ryan Strieby.

Toledo added a run in the second when Cale Iorg slammed a home run, his fifth, off the base of the scoreboard in left.

But that was all the Hens managed off Indianapolis starter Justin Wilson despite collecting eight hits and three walks off the lefty in six innings. While Toledo had a runner on base in each of the first five innings -- and a runner in scoring position in the first four frames -- the Hens were just 1-for-9 when batting with runners in scoring position against Wilson.

And even that hit deserves an asterisk: Jeff Salazar singled with two outs and runners on first and second, but Guillen was thrown out at the plate by Durham in right to end that threat.

But the Indianapolis bullpen shut down the Hens, limiting Toledo to just two hits and two walks in the final six innings.

Meanwhile Mud Hens starter Thad Weber was impressive in the early innings, holding the Indians to two singles and two hit batsmen while striking out seven in the first four innings.

But Weber stumbled in the fifth when, with two outs and no one on, he gave up an infield single to Anthony Norman and a home run to Brian Friday, his third of the season.

Weber got into trouble in the sixth, but managed to limit the damage to a single run that tied the game. Matt Hague led off with a single, then moved to third when Jordy Mercer doubled.

Andy Marte hit a grounder to third and Hague tried to score; Hens third baseman Danny Worth stopped the ball and threw home, and Hague ran back to third -- to find Mercer standing there. Hens catcher Max St-Pierre tagged Hague out.

But the Mud Hens weren't as lucky when the next batter, Durham, hit a grounder to third; Worth forced Marte out at second, but Durham beat the relay to first and Hague scored.

From that point the game stayed tied until Indianapolis scored the winning run in the top of the 12th.

NOTES: Guillen left the game after the ninth inning, which is customary for players on rehab assignments. He finished the day 0-for-4 with a walk. ... Brad Thomas, the left-handed pitcher from Detroit who recently pitched for the Hens on a rehab assignment, will return to the Hens Sunday. It is not certain when Thomas, who felt discomfort Tuesday in Columbus, will pitch for the Hens. ... Yesterday's crowd of 9,258 was the Mud Hens 11th sellout this season. The Hens have sold out the last two games in a row and six times in the last nine home dates.

Mud Hens fall in 12th - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens' pen shines in a pinch




The Hens' Cale Iorg argues a called strike with home plate umpire Toby Basner. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens entered Sunday night's game worried about having to cover nine innings with only its bullpen available.

Fu-Te Ni viewed it as a chance to become a starting pitcher once again.

"I'm glad I had the opportunity to start a game here," Ni said through his interpreter, Yuzheng Xiu. "I was a starter in Taiwan, so this was a chance to reminisce on what it was like to be a starter again."

Ni and the Mud Hens bullpen, forced into extended action because scheduled starter Adam Wilk was promoted to Detroit before the game, put together an outstanding effort. The four pitchers combined to limit Indianapolis to five hits, and pitch the Mud Hens to a 7-1 victory at Fifth Third Field.

Ni, who had made 115 relief appearances in his North American professional career before Sunday night, said he didn't feel any pressure in making his first start here.

"I approached it as more of a long relief appearance rather than starting a game," said Ni, who made 35 starts in Taiwan.

Ni allowed three hits in 4⅓ scoreless innings, while Matt Hoffman pitched three innings, Brendan Wise got two outs, and Jose Ortega pitched the final frame in the win.

"This was as big a team win as we've had all year," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "We've had a few comeback wins that were nice early in the year, and we've had some other nice wins along the way.

"But to this point of the season, this is the best overall team win we've had all season long."

Toledo broke a scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the fifth. Jeff Salazar was hit by a pitch to lead off, and Danny Worth sacrificed him to second before Salazar took third on a passed ball.

Scott Thorman followed by hitting a bouncer that fell in between the Indians' pitcher, first baseman and second baseman for a run-scoring infield hit. Thorman moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Omir Santos and came home on a sacrifice fly by Cale Iorg.

"I really liked the at-bats we were getting on offense," Nevin said. "We got two sacrifice bunts down, we had a good hit-and-run, and our execution was great."

Indianapolis scored its only run in the seventh on a home run by Gorkys Hernandez, but the Mud Hens broke the game open with a four-run rally in the eighth. Will Rhymes doubled and took third on a single by Argenis Diaz. Both baserunners scored on a double down the left-field line by Ben Guez, and Guez trotted home when Ryan Strieby belted his 11th home run of the season.

It was a rally that Nevin said helped the beleaguered bullpen finish the game smoothly.

"[Enrique Gonzalez] was going to come in if it was a save situation, but that was pushing it a little bit," Nevin said. "To get those extra runs in the bottom of the eighth was just huge."

NOTES: Detroit's Carlos Guillen, who is on a rehab assignment with the Hens, left the game after striking out in the bottom of the first. "He felt a little soreness, so we decided to take him out and nip it in the bud before anything worse happened," Nevin said. "He's going to go with us to Indianapolis, and I expect he will be in the lineup [Monday]." ... LHP Brad Thomas also returned to Toledo to continue his rehab assignment. Nevin said Thomas will throw on the side before Monday's game at Indianapolis, and he will be evaluated after that. ... Clete Thomas had a stiff neck and was scratched from yesterday's original starting lineup. Nevin said he is day-to-day. ... Last night's attendance was 9,481 for the Hens' 12th sellout this season. It also was Toledo's third sellout in as many days.

Mud Hens' pen shines in a pinch - Toledo Blade

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Oliver solid as Hens win 2nd straight


INDIANPOLIS -- Andy Oliver struck out eight Indianapolis batters over six scoreless innings, and Ryan Strieby went 2 for 4 with a RBI Monday night as the Mud Hens defeated the Indians 2-1.

The win was the second in a row for Toledo, and third in its last four contests.

The Hens (35-51) seized a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Jeff Salazar hit a home run over the right field fence for his third homer as a Mud Hen this season.

Strieby extended the Hens' lead to 2-0, when his sixth inning single scored Salazar.

It was Strieby's 44th RBI of the season.

The Indians (43-43) cut the lead in half in the seventh when Miguel Perez roped an RBI triple to left field.

Toledo reliever Chance Ruffin came out of the bullpen and worked the final five outs to earn his second save of the season.

Oliver (6-6) picked up his first win since June 13, allowing just four hits while walking six over six innings of duty.

The Mud Hens and Indians will square off once again tonight at 7 for the third game of a four game series with host Indianpolis. After a two-game stop in Columbus, the Hens return home Saturday for a two-game homestand against the Clippers.

Oliver solid as Hens win 2nd straight - Toledo Blade

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Hens' win streak ends in 10-4 loss to Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — The Mud Hens saw a modest two-game win streak come to an end with a 10-4 loss to Indianapolis Tuesday night.

The host Indians scored all their runs in the first five innings off Toledo starter L.J. Gagnier, who allowed 11 hits and 10 runs — nine of which were earned — in just 4 2/3 innings.

Indianapolis wasted no time in scoring in the first. Leadoff hitter Corey Wimberly doubled, Jordy Mercer was hit by a pitch, and John Bowker advanced both runners on a groundout, before Pedro Alvarez, on a rehab assignment from Pittsburgh, lined a two-run single to right.

The Indians added a run in the second when Miles Durham tripled, then scored on a double by Dusty Brown.

In the third inning, a walk to Alvarez and a double by Matt Hague put runners on second and third with only one out, and Kris Watts followed with a two-run single.

Toledo third baseman Argeniz Diaz made an error on a grounder by Durham that allowed Watts to reach third, where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Brown.

Carlos Guillen, who continued his rehab assignment with the Mud Hens Tuesday after missing Monday’s game, led off the fourth inning with a home run off Indianapolis starter Garrett Olson.

But the Indians got those two runs back in the bottom of the fourth when Wimberly led off with a single and then came home on a home run by Bowker, his eighth this year.

In the fifth, the Hens got another run when Cale Iorg and Max St-Pierre led off with walks, then moved up a base on a flyout by Jeff Salazar before Diaz hit a sacrifice fly that scored Iorg.

But in the bottom of that inning, the Tribe knocked Gagnier out of the game when Watts led off with a single, then moved to third on a one-out double by Brown. Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly scored Watts, and a single by Wimberly scored Brown and ended the day for Gagnier, who fell to 1-3 this season.

Enrique Gonzalez relieved Gagnier with 2 1/3innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball, while Matt Hoffman pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in a scoreless eighth.

But the Mud Hens managed just two runs in the ninth inning. Those final runs came home on an RBI double by Ben Guez and a sacrifice fly by Iorg.

NOTES: Before the game, the Hens placed catcher Omir Santos on the disabled list and called up catcher Jeff Kunkel from Double-A Erie. ... Guillen was 1-for-4 in the game before leaving for a defensive replacement in the bottom of the eighth.

Hens' win streak ends in 10-4 loss to Indianapolis - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens get win over Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — Three was the magic number for the Toledo Mud Hens in their 5-1 win over host Indianapolis Wednesday night.

Three Hens — Will Rhymes, Danny Worth, and Ben Guez — had a multi-hit game while the squad stole three bases for the team’s third win in its last four games.

Britton, Mich. product, lefty Duane Below earned his ninth win of the season (9-4) as he allowed a single run while striking out four over seven innings.

The Mud Hens (36-52) leapt out to a 1-0 lead over the Indians when Ryan Strieby laced a RBI single to left field that scored Rhymes.

Indianapolis (44-44) tied things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the third when John Bowker grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice.

In the fifth, rehabbing Detroit Tiger Carlos Guillen’s two-run double put the Hens up for good at 3-1 and Cale Iorg added an insurance run in the sixth when his sacrifice fly pushed Guez across home plate.

Guillen finished the game 1-for-4 in the win.

The Hens’ final run of the contest came in the eighth inning when Rhymes singled in Iorg.

Rhymes was 3-for-5 with an RBI, Worth was 2-for-3 with two walks while Guez was 2-for-4, both doubles. Guez’s two doubles give him a total of 14 on the season.

Rhymes, Iorg, and Worth all swiped bases for the Mud Hens, who travel to Columbus for a two-game series starting Thursday night at 7 before hosting the Clippers beginning Saturday.

Mud Hens get win over Indianapolis - Toledo Blade

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Clippers rally past Mud Hens

COLUMBUS -- It appeared that the Toledo Mud Hens were going to cruise to victory in Columbus as they led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth. However, a six-run rally allowed the Clippers to take a lead they would not give back as they won 6-3 Thursday night.

Timo Perez got the Hens on the scoreboard first when he lined a RBI double to centerfield to score Argenis Diaz in the third.

Ryan Strieby led off the next inning by pulling a solo home run over the left field wall.

The Hens scored another run in the sixth. Rehabbing Detroit Tiger Carlos Guillen started the inning off with a single. Strieby put runner on the corners when he followed up with a single of his own. Next, Columbus starting pitcher, Corey Kluber threw a wild pitch that allowed the Hens to score their third run of the game.

Toledo had an opportunity to blow the game wide open in the eighth when they loaded the bases with two outs. However, Danny Worth struck out preventing the Hens from widening their lead.

Toledo starter Thad Weber was taken out in the eighth after giving up a leadoff bunt single and a walk. Reliever Matt Hoffman immediately gave up a RBI single which delivered Columbus' first run of the game.

Next, Hoffman hit a batter to load the bases with no outs. Hoffman was able to force the Clippers into an RBI fielder's choice before being taken out for Chance Ruffin. However, Ruffin didn't fare much better as he gave up a go-ahead three-run home run to Jerad Head

Clippers rally past Mud Hens - Toledo Blade

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Hens coming along

Guillen’s rehab almost complete




Toledo’s Ben Guez hits a double for an RBI in the Mud Hens’ 5-2 win over Columbus. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprint

s There was good news for the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field Saturday night as Toledo claimed a come-from-behind 5-2 victory over Columbus.

There was even better news for Tigers fans as Carlos Guillen continued his rehab assignment with the Mud Hens. Guillen had another strong day at the plate, and he seems nearly ready to rejoin Detroit after the all-star break.

Guillen, serving as the Hens’ DH, went 2-for-3 with a clutch two-out RBI double in Toledo’s two-run seventh-inning rally that gave them the lead for good.

READ MORE: All-star break a time for to relax

“He’s looking better and better each day,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Guillen. “You have to remember, he’s been out of baseball for almost a whole year.

“He has worked his butt off, and I’m surprised at how quickly his timing has come back. He’s just a good hitter; his hand-eye coordination is just impressive.”


Columbus’ Ezequiel Carrera, left, steals third base against Toledo’s Argenis Diaz during the third inning. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Guillen is rehabbing from microfracture surgery on his left knee that took place last September, an injury that has kept him off the field since last August.

His two-hit night last night extended his current hit streak to five games; in those five contests he has gone 7-for-19 (.368) with a home run, two doubles, and five RBIs as well as three runs scored.

Guillen now is hitting .286 in his eight games with Toledo.

As for the Hens, they scored twice in the seventh and eighth to overcome a 3-1 deficit and thrill a crowd of 12,000 fans, the Hens’ 13th sellout this season.

Both starting pitchers were wild in the first inning, and it cost each of them a run.

Toledo starter Andy Oliver gave up an infield hit to leadoff man Ezequiel Carrera and a single to Jason Donald. Oliver seemed poised to escape trouble when he got Cord Phelps to hit into a double play, but Oliver threw a wild pitch that allowed Carrera to score from third.

Columbus starter David Huff gave that run back in the bottom of the first when, with one out, he issued back-to-back walks to Timo Perez and Carlos Guillen. Ben Guez made Huff play by blooping a two-out RBI single to center.

The Clippers took the lead with a run in the third as Carrera and Donald reached base on singles to put runners on first and third, and Chad Huffman hit a sacrifice fly to left.


Toledo first baseman Ryan Strieby chases after a ball hit by the Clippers. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens began their comeback in the seventh off the Columbus bullpen as Cale Iorg doubled off Carlton Smith and Max St-Pierre drew a walk and Rhymes beat out a bunt for a single that loaded the bases.

Perez hit into a double play that scored Iorg to tie the game, and Guillen rapped a double down the third-base line that scored St-Pierre with the go-ahead run.

Toledo added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth as Guez doubled, then stole third before scoring on a fielder’s choice grounder by Clete Thomas.

Thomas reached first when Guez beat the throw to the plate; Thomas stole second, then scored on a single by Iorg.

Hens coming along - Toledo Blade

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Ni leads Hens to victory

Middle reliever shines as starter




Toledo's Jeff Salazar hits an RBI-double during the fifth inning of the Hens' 4-1 win over Columbus. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Mud Hens starter Fu-Te Ni said he was "lucky" Sunday.

Truth be told, the Hens were lucky that Ni pitched for them. The lefty was brilliant in leading Toledo to a 4-1 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field.

Ni allowed just three hits and one run in 5⅔ innings while striking out nine. The innings pitched and strikeouts were North American career highs for the native of Taiwan, who was making just his second career start in this country.

"I just wanted to do my job," Ni said through translator Yuzheng Xiu. "I think of myself as a long reliever rather than a starter."

When asked if he should petition manager Phil Nevin for the chance to start full-time, Ni just laughed.

"Probably not," he said. "I know my role here. There are a lot of good starters here; I don't need to start."

Ni was as good as any of those other starters Sunday, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before Jason Donald slammed a home run to left-center. The left-hander pitched around two Toledo errors and gave up just a two-out single to Donnie Webb in the fifth and a double to Donald in the sixth.

"He threw strikes with all of his pitches," Nevin said of Ni. "His breaking ball was good.

"He's pitched in the long role and been very successful lately. He's a guy that we can throw out there and have confidence in."

The Mud Hens bullpen also was strong as Luis Ortega allowed just one walk in 1⅓ innings, Brad Thomas pitched around an error in a scoreless eighth inning, and Chance Ruffin gave up a single and also made an error in the ninth -- giving the Hens a season-high four errors in the game -- but closed out the contest to claim his fourth save.

"It was a little sloppy defensively, but our pitching was outstanding and the reason we overcame those errors," Nevin said. "We can't do that defensively."

Meanwhile the offense did enough to make a winner out of Ni. Toledo scratched out a run in the first when Will Rhymes doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice by Timo Perez, and scored on a groundout by Carlos Guillen.

"That first inning was key," Nevin said. "It was 1-0 because we executed well, and I think that set the tone for the whole game.

"In the inning we got three, we did everything right."

That inning was the fourth, and the rally started when Guillen reached on an error by Jared Goedert at third base. Ryan Strieby doubled Guillen to third, where he scored on a groundout by Ben Guez. Jeff Salazar then doubled off the rightfield wall to score Strieby.

Salazar stole third, then came home when Argenis Diaz singled through a drawn-in infield.

That was enough offense to send the Mud Hens into the break on a three-game home winning streak, the team's longest this season.

"It's a double-edged sword," Nevin said. "You have the three-day break, but now you don't want to stop because we're playing well."

The Hens also might want to keep playing because they are now 7-3 in July, matching the seven wins the team had in 29 games in June.

"This is a great way to finish the last week," Ni said. "Now we're going to the break with a winning mentality.

"It's better to do that than to be losing going into the break. Instead of thinking about the losing, we can relax and get ready for the rest of the season."

NOTES: After the game, Guillen said he will play a game for Double-A Erie today, then rejoin the Mud Hens Thursday for the first game of their series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. No word on how long Guillen will stay with the Hens, although the 20 days he is allowed to rehab will expire at week's end. ... Guillen bought a post-game spread from Outback Steakhouse for his Toledo teammates to enjoy. ... Brad Thomas said he does not know what the next step in his rehab assignment will be. ... Donald left the game after his double, but word from the Columbus clubhouse is that he suffered only a slight strain. ... Clippers starter Scott Barnes was injured fielding a bunt single by Cale Iorg in the sixth. There was no word on his status following the contest.

Ni leads Hens to victory - Toledo Blade

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Toledo gets 4th consecutive win in victory over Yankees




Starting pitcher, Charlie Furbush, throws a pitch during the top of the sixth inning. He earned a win Thursday night. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens knew they were facing a major-league pitcher Thursday night in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Ivan Nova.Good thing Toledo had a quality pitcher on the mound in Charlie Furbush.

Furbush, who was optioned to the Hens just before the all-star break, allowed just two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings to pitch Toledo to its fourth straight win, a 4-2 victory over the Yankees at Fifth Third Field.

When asked about Nova, who had an 8-4 record with a 4.12 ERA in 17 appearances with the New York Yankees this year, Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said, "Our guy [Furbush] is pretty good, too. I felt we had a big leaguer going, too."

Nova began this season with New York, but was sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre not because he pitched poorly, but because of a glut of pitchers in the majors. He held the Hens in check, limiting them to seven hits and three runs in seven innings.

Furbush was more than up to that challenge, giving up just five hits and one walk in 6⅔ innings while fanning six.

"One difference that I saw in him since he was [in the majors] was that he threw all of his pitches for strikes," Nevin said of Furbush. "And that makes his fastball more effective. Because of his delivery, he has a very deceptive fastball. And when he's throwing those other pitches for strikes, that makes his fastball even better."

Furbush was 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA in Toledo before getting a call to Detroit, where he was 1-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 14 games, including a pair of starts before the all-star break.

"I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about how to face hitters," Furbush said. "Overall it has been a good learning experience."

Furbush gave up a run in the second, then retired 14-of-15 hitters in the middle innings before tiring in the sixth. With the score 3-2, the bases loaded and two outs, Daniel Schlereth came on in relief and struck out Chris Dickerson, then collected two more strikeouts before giving way to Chance Ruffin, who collected two more whiffs to earn his fifth save.

Meanwhile the Hens got to Nova early when Carlos Guillen drew a two-out walk in the first and Ryan Strieby slammed his 13th home run of the season.

"In the first inning, it's tough to see the ball [with the shadows] off anybody, let alone [Nova]," Strieby said. "His stuff is as good as anyone in this league.

"I was just trying to swing at a good pitch and square it up."

In the sixth Strieby came to bat with Jeff Salazar on third and scored the run with a sacrifice fly.

"He's really been swinging the bat well," Nevin said of Strieby. "He's been working hard -- he's done a lot of work with [hitting coach] Bull [Durham].

"And the thing I think you're seeing is that he's finally healthy. His wrist has been bothering him for a couple of years, and this year he doesn't have to ice it or treat it."

Then Guillen finished a 2-for-3 night by slamming an RBI single in the eighth -- then adding icing to the cake by stealing second.

"The key is his health," Nevin said of Guillen. "Having the previous two days off, he's going to feel great. We'll see how he feels [Friday], and we'll go from there. He's always been able to hit. His hand-speed is there, and he can hit anywhere. But the key is that he's healthy."

NOTES: Guillen will play for the Hens again Friday. Nevin said the status of Guillen's rehab assignment will be assessed after the game. ... The Tigers designated LHP Brad Thomas for assignment. If no team claims Thomas in the next three days, he will have the choice of joining the Mud Hens or becoming a free agent.

Toledo gets 4th consecutive win in victory over Yankees - Toledo Blade

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Hens fall in Guillen’s final game




Carlos Guillen turns a double play Friday night at Fifth Third Field in his final game with the Hens. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The final night of Carlos Guillen’s rehab assignment with the Mud Hens ran the gamut of emotions as Toledo suffered a 7-3 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Fifth Third Field Friday night.

In the fourth inning, the emotion was pain: He was hit on the knee by a throw at second base, and he came up hobbling but stayed in the game.

In the seventh inning, the emotion was anger: He was called out on strikes on a pitch he thought was high, and in the process of arguing he was ejected by home-plate ump Toby Basner.

But after the game, the emotion was happiness: Guillen learned he would rejoin the Tigers on Saturday for their contest against the White Sox after missing nearly a full year because of a knee injury.

“It feels good — everything is fine,” Guillen said after Friday’s contest. “The ejection? That’s part of the game.

“The important thing is that I’m healthy, and now I get to go back up [to Detroit].”

What is the next step for Guillen?

“To stay healthy,” he said with a laugh. “I’m being called up, and I just want to do my best to help my team win.”

Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said he thought Guillen is ready to help the Tigers, even though the play where Guillen was hit at second base might have seemed scary to some.

“He got up and bounced around right away,” Nevin said. “By the time we got out there, he had walked it off and said he was good to go.

“He’s ready to go. He’s always been able to hit, and he’s swinging the bat well from both sides of the plate.

“Defensively he’s going to make the plays on the balls that he gets to, and he turned a nice double play. The main thing is that he’s healthy.”

As for the game itself, it was a 3-3 nail-biter until Hens reliever Jose Ortega, who dominated the Yankees in the seventh, gave up a walk, a single, and a walk to load the bases with one out in the eighth.

Enrique Gonzalez came on and nearly wiggled out of the jam. He struck out Doug Bernier, then got ahead of Kevin Russo 0-2 before Russo slammed the next pitch off the scoreboard in left for his second home run — and the Yankees’ first grand slam — of the season.

“Gonzo threw the ball great — but he made one mistake,” Nevin said. “He was trying to get [Russo] to bite on a pitch off the plate, but it ran over the plate. And Russo hit it.

“I trust Gonzo to throw strikes, and he’s the anchor of the bullpen. I’ll go to him again in a tough situation again.”


The Hens’ Jeff Kunkel unleashes a swing in the third inning. He was hitless as the Hens saw their four-game winning streak end. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The grand slam spoiled an otherwise impressive effort for the Mud Hens, who rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to tie the game. Ryan Strieby had a clutch two-out RBI single to score a run in the first inning after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had plated two in the top of the first.

Then after the Yankees scored once in the third, Toledo took advantage of the wildness of D.J. Mitchell to score in the fourth. Mitchell walked Guillen, Jeff Salazar, and Ben Guez to load the bases with one out, then hit Cale Iorg with a pitch to force home the run.

The Mud Hens had a potential game-tying run thrown out at home in the fifth, but bounced back to tie the game in the sixth. Guez and Argenis Diaz hit back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and third, and Iorg hit a sacrifice fly to right — with Guez just managing to touch home plate before he was tagged out.

“When we tied it up, there was no doubt in my mind we were going to win the game,” Nevin said. “Baseball is just funny the way it works.

“We had our chances with guys on base, but they got the big hit.”

NOTES: The Tigers announced that Al Alburquerque also would be activated from the disabled list Saturday. Detroit sent IF Danny Worth and RHP Ryan Perry to Toledo to make room for Guillen and Alburquerque. ... The Mud Hens sent RHPs L.J. Gagnier and Brendan Wise to Double-A Erie to make room for Worth and Perry on the roster. ... Guillen wasn’t the only player ejected Friday, as the Yankees’ Brandon Laird also got tossed for arguing a called third strike. ... Friday night’s crowd of 10,300 was the Mud Hens 14th sellout this season.

Hens fall in Guillen?s final game - Toledo Blade

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Hens stay hot, beat Yanks




Toledo center fielder Jeff Salazar cannot quite come up with the ball hit by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Austin Krum in the fifth. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Ryan Strieby's two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh propelled the Mud Hens to a 7-4 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Fifth Third Field Saturday night.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Timo Perez led off with a single and Strieby crushed the first pitch from George Kontos well over the fence in left-center for his 14th home run of the season and second in three days against the Yankees.

The Hens added another run in that inning when Jeff Salazar walked, stole second -- the Hens' season-high fifth stolen base of the night -- before taking third on a sacrifice by Danny Worth and scoring on a groundout by Clete Thomas.

The Toledo bullpen made that lead stand up to give the Hens their second win in three games following the all-star break and fifth in the last six contests.

The Mud Hens' seventh-inning rally capped a wild game in which the two teams scored at least one run in seven of the first 12 half-innings.

Toledo broke on top with a run in the bottom of the first that came thanks to the wildness of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Lance Pendleton. Argenis Diaz and Perez singled with one out, and with two outs Pendleton walked Salazar to load the bases and then Worth to force in the run.

Starting in the top of the fourth inning the two teams began a string of six consecutive frames in which someone scored.

The Yankees got things rolling in the top of the fourth by scoring twice. Jesus Montero walked, moved to second on a two-out single by Terry Tiffee, and both came home on a double by Brandon Laird.

Toledo tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when Thomas beat out a one-out bunt, stole second, and came home on a clutch two-out single by Will Rhymes.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took a one-run lead in the fifth when Luis Nunez lined a ball hard off third base for a single, and Toledo starter Brayan Villarreal hit Doug Bernier with a pitch and walked Kevin Russo to load the bases with no one out.

Austin Krum singled in one run, but Villarreal escaped further damage by striking out Montero and getting Jorge Vazquez to hit into a double play.

The Hens retied the game in the bottom of the fifth when Perez reached on an error, stole second, and raced home on a two-out triple by Worth.

Villarreal gave up doubles to Tiffee and Jordan Parraz for a run in the top of the sixth, but Toledo tied the game once more in the sixth when Thomas doubled, took third on a sacrifice by Max St-Pierre, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rhymes.

That set up the Hens' game-winning rally, as did the work of the Toledo bullpen as Fu-Te Ni, Enrique Gonzalez, and Chance Ruffin limited the Yankees to two hits over the final 3 2/3 innings.

NOTES: The Mud Hens added Worth and RHP Ryan Perry to the roster and sent RHPs L.J. Gagnier and Brendan Wise to Double-A Erie. ... The Tigers also outrighted the contract of LHP Brad Thomas to Toledo, but he was placed on the temporary inactive list. ... Saturday night's crowd of 11,500 was the Mud Hens 15th sellout this season.


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Hens show gutsy side

Toledo turns tables on Yankees, wins it in 11th




Hens’ first baseman Ryan Strieby takes a throw last night hoping to catch Yankees’ base runner Austin Krum before he can get back. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

All seemed lost when the Mud Hens fell behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6-1 in the sixth inning Sunday night.

The only place in Fifth Third Field where hope still existed was in the Mud Hens' dugout.

"The feeling in the dugout was that something was going to happen," Toledo's Jeff Salazar said. "Sure enough, it did."

Salazar's home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth tied the contest at 6-6, and Danny Worth's bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the 11th gave the Hens a 7-6 victory.

"That was exciting," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "That's the way the past couple of weeks have gone, with someone different coming up with a big hit.

"A lot of people will point to Salazar's home run as the big hit, but a lot of guys played key roles in a big rally -- and a team win."

The early innings belonged to the Yankees, who scored single runs in the first, third, fourth, and fifth off Toledo starter Andy Oliver, then a pair of runs off reliever Charlie Furbush in the sixth.

But the Mud Hens began their comeback in the bottom of the sixth by scoring three times to cut the deficit to 6-4.

"When you answer back with one run, it gives you confidence," Salazar said. "We knew we could chip away and bounce back.

"There never was a sense of doubt in the dugout. We felt that, given the right opportunity, we would take advantage of it."

Ryan Strieby got the sixth-inning rally started with a single, then came around to score on a double by Salazar. One out later Guez singled Sazalar to third, and Thomas followed with an RBI single to right.

Guez raced to third on the hit by Thomas, and a wild throw by Brandon Laird in right bounced away from Yankees third baseman Mike Lamb, allowing Guez to score.

"We had good momentum all game," Worth said. "I just knew we were going to get within striking distance."

As the Mud Hens bullpen kept the Yankees in check -- Matt Hoffman struck out four in two scoreless innings, and Ryan Perry fanned a pair in three scoreless frames -- Toledo kept chipping away at the deficit with a run in the seventh on an RBI single by Salazar.

But the Hens were down to their final out when Salazar slammed a 3-1 pitch by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Logan Kensing off the railing of the right-field fence for a game-tying homer.

"I was just trying to get on base and cause trouble. You hope he makes a mistake in the zone, and he challenged me with a fastball," Salazar said.

"I cheated a little bit to try to barrel up his fastball. I thought I hit it well enough to get it out, but that corner plays tricks."

Then in the 11th Diaz singled and moved to third on a two-out single by Strieby before the Yankees loaded the bases by walking Salazar.

Worth drew a walk from Eric Wordekemper to force home Diaz with the winning run.

"You're looking first for a good pitch to hit, and you know he doesn't want to get behind so he's going to come at you early," Worth said. "I fouled the first pitch off, and then I worked the count to 3-1.

"I still debated whether I would take a pitch or swing at 3-1 when the pitcher went into his wind-up, but I got ready to go -- and it was a high pitch."

NOTE: The Mud Hens' Furbush, who started for Toledo Thursday, threw an inning in relief of Oliver at the request of the Tigers. Nevin said after the game that Fu-Te Ni will start Tuesday instead of the scheduled starter, Furbush.


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Surging Hens trounce again


Enlarge NORFOLK, Va. -- The Mud Hens won their third straight game Monday and improved to 11-4 in the month of July as they beat the Norfolk Tides 9-3.

After a walk-off win in Toledo Sunday night, the Hens (43-54) brought their momentum to the east coast as they scored three runs to start the game.

Leadoff hitter Will Rhymes got the rally started with a line drive single to center and Argenis Diaz followed up with a single of his own, extending his hitting streak to eight games.

Jeff Salazar dropped a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position and Rhymes scored on a passed ball.

Ryan Strieby drove in Diaz and the Hens would eventually load the bases with just one out.

Clete Thomas's plate discipline forced the Tides to walk in the third run of the inning.

The Tides came rolling back in the fifth to tie the game off starter Thad Weber, but he Hens wasted no time regaining the lead. Jeff Kunkel hit a bases loaded RBI infield single to deliver a 4-3 Toledo advantage.

The Hens blew the game wide open with a four run eighth. Diaz provided a RBI single while Strieby earned his RBI via a bases loaded walk, and Scott Thorman hammered a two-run single to center.


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