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Hens sweep doubleheader

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- For the second day, the Mud Hens played an unusual doubleheader at Lehigh Valley, winning 3-2 to finish Sunday's rain-suspended contest first before winning 6-5 in the second seven-inning contest.

Tied at 1 to start the third inning in the opening game, Clete Thomas hammered a two-run home run to give the Hens a 3-1 advantage.

Matt Hoffman was forced to make an unusually early appearance into a game and the reliever pitched tossed 3⅓ innings of shutout baseball.

Game one got close when reliever RHP Enrique Gonzalez gave up a RBI double in the sixth. However, Gonzalez settled down to earn his ninth save of the year.

The Hens stole the lead back immediately in the second, down 1-0 in the second game. Ben Guez and Danny Worth each provided a RBI single.

Lehigh Valley tied the game as the IronPigs were helped out when Hens shortstop Argenis Diaz made a throwing error to first that allowed the Pigs to tie game.

Toledo regained the lead when Guez and Scott Thorman connected on back-to-back doubles.

Just like the second inning, Guez and Worth each provided a RBI in the sixth to give the Hens two needed insurance runs.

Timo Perez added what turned into a very valuable insurance RBI when he roped a RBI single in the seventh to extend Toledo's lead to 6-3.

Hens sweep doubleheader - Toledo Blade

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Hens fall in Buffalo

BUFFALO — Joshua Sabin's singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth brought home Zach Lutz to give Buffalo a 3-2 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens in the opening game of their International League series Tuesday night.

Toledo had scored first in the fourth inning of the closely contested game, Buffalo tied the game in the sixth, then took a 2-1 lead in the seventh. Toledo's Brandon Inge homered in the eighth to tie the game before the Bisons put the game away in their final turn at bat.

Timo Perez singled to open the the Toledo fourth inning. After Ryan Strieby was called out on strikes, Inge singled and Clete Thomas was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ben Guez then delivered a sacrifice fly to center scoring Perez.

Buffalo tied the game at 1-all in the sixth on a Lutz home run after two were out. The Bisions went ahead in the seventh on a double by Satin and single by Mike Nickeas, but the lead didn't last long as Inge homered to tie the game again in the eighth at 2-all.

Lutz opened the Buffalo ninth with a single and went to second on a wild pitch by Brendan Wise. After Valentino Pascicci popped out, Sabin's single sent Lutz home with the winning run.

Will Rhymes was 4 for 5 at the plate for the Hens, including a double. Inge was 2 for 3 with a home tun and RBI. Starter Ramon Garcia pitched into the sixth inning for Toledo and allowed just four hits and one run. Wise allowed four hits and two runs in his two-and-two-thirds stint.

Dylan Owen pitched into the seventh before being replaced by Taylor Tankersley for Buffalo. John Lujan pitched the ninth for the victory

Hens fall in Buffalo - Toledo Blade

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Buffalo tops Hens


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BUFFALO — Miguel Batista limited Toledo to just four hits and one walk in eight innings to pitch Buffalo to a 4-2 win over the Mud Hens Wednesday afternoon.

Hens starter Andy Oliver allowed one run in the first and two more in the second and Toledo wasn't able to recover, suffering its second straight loss to the Bisons.

With one out in the first, Buffalo's Luis Figueroa tripled, then scored on a single by Valentino Pascucci.

In the second inning Fernando Perez and Jesus Feliciano hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no one out. Perez scored on a sacrifice fly by Raul Chavez, and Feliciano came home on a two-out double by Figueroa.

Toledo broke through for a run in the third off Batista when Jeff Salazar walked, then raced around the bases on a double by Omir Santos.

Buffalo scored its final run in the fifth off Oliver when Figueroa hit a ground-rule double to lead off, then came home on a double by Zach Lutz.

Figueroa finished the day 3-for-4 with the three extra-base hits and two runs scored.

The Mud Hens' other run came in the eighth. That rally started when Argenis Diaz reached second base on a throwing error by Bisons third baseman Josh Satin.

Diaz took third on a flyout by Salazar and scored on a groundout by Santos.

The Mud Hens and Bisons continue their four-game series with a game tonight at 7 p.m.

NOTE: The Mud Hens lost three pitchers off their active roster as Chance Ruffin was traded to Seattle by Detroit, Ramon Garcia was demoted to Double-A Erie and Adam Wilk was placed on the disabled list.

Buffalo tops Hens - Toledo Blade

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Lakeland call-up gets 1st Hens' win

BUFFALO -- Father may know best, but the son got the best of this "Teufel Scuffle" Thursday night as former Mud Hen Tim Teufel's son Shawn made his Triple-A debut in a 4-0 win for Toledo over Buffalo.

Shawn Teufel pitched six innings of shutout ball against his father Tim's team, who is the manager of the Bison, by allowing three hits and striking out seven after making an emergency start, getting the call from High-A Lakeland (Fla.).

Shawn Teufel set down the first five Bisons (53-72) he faced. After an error by shortstop Danny Worth, he got out of the second inning with a strikeout.

The Hens loaded the bases in the third inning and Worth picked up the first RBI of the game when he drew a bases loaded walk to score Scott Thorman. Timo Perez drove in two runs when he lined a single to center, and Ryan Strieby got the Hens their fourth run of the inning with a fielder's choice.

Shawn Teufel faced his first pressure situation in the bottom of the third. He loaded the bases with one out, but delivered two straight strikeouts to Bisons sluggers Zach Lutz and Valentino Pascucci.

Shawn Teufel tossed a 1-2-3 fourth inning and gave up just one hit in the fifth. David Purcey, Brayan Villarreal, and Matt Hoffman teamed up to shut the door on the Bisons as they threw three shutout innings of relief.

NOTES: Tim Teufel played for the Toledo Mud Hens from 1982-1983. ... LHP Fu-Te Ni was activated from the temporary inactive list, RHP Robbie Weinhardt was promoted from Double-A Erie.

Lakeland call-up gets 1st Hens' win - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens lose in 11th inning after rallying to take late lead

BUFFALO -- Buffalo's Val Pascucci's two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning sunk the rallying hopes of the Toledo Mud Hens Friday night, as the Bison left the park with a 4-2 victory.

Toledo had scored two runs in the top of the 8th inning to take a 2-1 lead as Timo Perez and Ryan Strieby knocked in Argenis Diaz and Will Rhymes before Jesus Feliciano tied the game in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Fu Te-Ni pitched 7⅔ innings, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out five in the no-decision start.

Enrique Gonzalez pitched the final two innings and gave up the final three runs to run his mound record to 4-5 on the season.

Rhymes and Scott Thorman each collected two his in the loss for the Mud Hens, who host Louisville tonight at Fifth Third Field.

Mud Hens lose in 11th inning after rallying to take late lead - Toledo Blade

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Demotion not a negative

Dirks takes switch in stride as roster changes abound




Andy Dirks watches his batted ball Saturday in the Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field. It was his first game with Toledo since May 13. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

If Andy Dirks was surprised or disappointed to be playing for the Mud Hens Saturday, he certainly didn't show it.

In fact, Dirks said he understood his demotion from Detroit to Toledo Friday, a move that paved the way for Brandon Inge to return to the Tigers.

"That's the way the game is," Dirks said about the demotion. "They needed a spot filled at that time, and they had to make a move.

"That's part of the game. There's only 25 guys on the team, and that's what was best for the team at that time."

The Tigers admitted that Dirks didn't necessarily deserve the demotion. The 25-year-old was hitting .257 in 61 games, not a bad effort in his first taste of major league baseball. It wasn't as if Dirks had cooled off recently: He was hitting a respectable .257 in 35 at-bats in August.

"[The Tigers] said, 'Go down there, play hard and get some at-bats,' " Dirks said. "They have some lefties they are facing coming up, so I probably wouldn't have gotten a lot of at-bats anyway.

"So I came here to keep working and keep getting better."

Toledo manager Phil Nevin said Dirks will play every day for the Hens as long as he's with the team. Before his promotion to Detroit on May 13, Dirks hit .328 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 34 games with the Hens.

Dirks said his first taste of the major leagues was an amazing experience.

"It's something you work your whole life to get to, and when it happens it's pretty special," he said. "We were in a pennant race, the fans were great, and it was just a great experience.

"And when you're in a pennant race, truly playing for something, that makes it even more exciting. There is a little more emotion. When you get a big hit [in that situation], they're just a little bit bigger."

ROSTER SHUFFLE: Since the Mud Hens left town on Aug. 11, the team has fought through 24 transactions involving 20 players.

To put that number in perspective, since Louisville left Toledo that same day, the Bats have made just four changes to their roster.

Before Saturday's game there were six Toledo transactions, including Dirks coming to the Hens and Inge going to Detroit, while left-hander Shawn Teufel returned to Hi-A Lakeland to make room for Saturday's starter, right-hander Trevor Feeney.

The third move involved infielder Audy Ciriaco coming to the Hens to replace outfielder Clete Thomas, who was placed on the disabled list with a broken finger.

Nevin said Ciriaco, who has made two brief appearances with the Hens the previous two seasons, will replace Argenis Diaz as Toledo's everyday shortstop.

"Ciriaco will play [shortstop] the majority of the time," Nevin said. "We need to see what he can do here, and we've only got two weeks left."

CLOSER CHANGES: Many of the changes to the Toledo roster since the last home game have involved the pitching staff, which lost potential closers Chance Ruffin and Lester Oliveros to trades by the Tigers.

On Friday night in Buffalo Enrique Gonzalez came within one strike of earning his tenth save, but instead gave up a game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth and later the eventual game-winning home run in the 11th.

Nevin said that Gonzalez remains his team's closer despite stubbing his toe Friday.

"In my opinion, he saved the game," Nevin said of Gonzalez. "He threw a pitch we thought was strike three. The next pitch was a blooper for a base hit that tied the game.

"He battled to cover two more innings, and the home run was a pitch he got up. He really only made one bad pitch [on the home run to Val Pascucci]. When he's available, he's the closer -- without a doubt."

It's worth noting that, even though the Hens haven't settled on one closer this season, Friday's loss marked the first time the Mud Hens lost a game in which they were leading entering the ninth inning.

Toledo was 47-0 in those situations before Friday's loss.

Demotion not a negative - Toledo Blade

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Hens struggle early in loss to Louisville



Visiting Louisville scored eight runs in the first three innings and rolled to a 12-1 win over the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field Saturday night.

Toledo starter Trevor Feeney, who was called up from Hi-A Lakeland to make the start, wasn't able to pitch past the third inning as the Hens lost for the fourth time in the last five games.

In the first frame Feeney gave up back-to-back doubles to Chris Valaika and Juan Francisco that produced a run.

The Bats exploded for four runs in the second. That rally started with a walk to Devin Mesoraco, and Mike Costanzo pounded a two-run homer to right, his fourth home run of the year.

David Cook followed with a single, Kristopher Negron doubled Cook to third, and Valaika hit a sacrifice fly to score Cook before Francisco slammed a single that brought Negron home.

Louisville chased Feeney in the third as Jeremy Hermida and Mesoraco had singles in front of Danny Dorn, who pulled a three-run shot into The Roost seats in right field for his 16th home run of the year.

Toledo reliever Robbie Weinhardt allowed just one unearned run in 3⅓ innings. That run came in the fifth as Weinhardt gave up a pair of walks and a single to load the bases, and Max St-Pierre allowed a passed ball that scored the run.

In the seventh Hens reliever Jose Ortega gave up a walk and a single before serving up a long three-run homer to right by Francisco, his 14th home run of the year.

Louisville ended the night with 16 hits as Negron, Valaika, and Francisco had three apiece. Francisco's double and homer helped him finish with five RBIs.

That offensive outburst was more than enough for Bats starter Matt Maloney, who has a history of success at Fifth Third Field.

The Huron High School product, who has spent time in the majors with Cincinnati this season, entered Saturday night's contest with a 4-1 record and 2.63 ERA in eight previous starts here.

Saturday night Maloney held the Hens in check on eight hits and a walk through seven scoreless frames. In three different innings Toledo collected at least two hits against Maloney, but each of those potential rallies was thwarted by a double play.

Toledo's lone run came in the eighth off Bats reliever Tom Cochrane.

Will Rhymes drew a leadoff walk, and Argenis Diaz doubled into the left-field corner. Rhymes circled the bases and just beat the throw to the plate for the run.

Cochrane was ejected one batter later when Timo Perez was ruled safe on a ground ball down the first-base line.

Jerry Gil got Andy Dirks to hit a fly ball to shallow left that Robert Griffin caught, then threw to first to nab Perez with the fourth double play of the night.

NOTES: The Mud Hens wore white jerseys trimmed in purple and auctioned off the jerseys during the game. Proceeds from the auction will go to the American Cancer Society. ... Saturday night's crowd of 11,500 was the Mud Hens' 25th sellout this season.

Hens struggle early in loss to Louisville - Toledo Blade

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Turner fans 8 in first win

Dirks gets 3 hits in Hens' win over Bats




The Mud Hens’ Andy Dirks, left, is congratulated by Will Rhymes after hitting a home run in the fifth inning at Fifth Third Field. THE BLADE/LISA BERNHEIM Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Mud Hens starter Jacob Turner made his first start in 10 days count, pitching Toledo to a 9-2 victory over Louisville at Fifth Third Field Sunday night.

Turner overcame some early struggles to limit the Bats to five hits and a pair of runs in six innings. The 20-year-old right-hander, considered the best prospect in the Tigers' organization, finished with eight strikeouts to earn his first Triple-A victory.

"I thought I threw pretty well," Turner said. "It took me a few innings to get into a groove, but once I got into a groove I was able to get ahead of hitters and throw some strikes.

"Every time you go out there it takes a little while to find that groove, that feeling of what feels right for that day. I found it around the third inning, and I felt I did pretty well after that."

Turner, who had not pitched since facing the Bats in his Triple-A debut on Aug. 11, gave up a run in the first when Juan Francisco doubled with two outs, then came home on a single by Denis Phipps. Jeremy Hermida singled Phipps to second, but Turner escaped further damage with a groundout.

"I was getting the ball over the plate, but I wasn't putting the ball right where I wanted it," Turner said of his 24-pitch first inning. "They got the three hits in the first inning, but they have some pretty good hitters."

In the fourth Hermida lined a triple to the deepest part of center, then came home on a two-out single by Danny Dorn for Louisville's final hit off Turner.

Turner seemed to get sharper as the game progressed, retiring the last seven hitters he faced. He threw first-pitch strikes to the last eight hitters he faced and 17-of-23 overall. He didn't walk a batter and reached a three-ball count to just three Louisville hitters.

"In the first inning I think you might have seen a little [rust] from him not having pitched in 10 days, but after that I thought he was pretty good," Toledo manager Phil Nevin said of Turner. "In the fourth inning [Hermida] hit the ball hard to center, but they got a jam-shot to left-center for the run.

"Those kinds of hits and those kinds of runs are going to happen to any pitcher. I really like what I saw from Jacob."

Meanwhile the Mud Hens took a little time to get rolling offensively off Bats starter Chad Reineke, an Ayersville High School graduate. Toledo scored a run in the third when Danny Worth walked, raced to third on a hit-and-run single by Omir Santos, and scored on a single by Andy Dirks.

Toledo took the lead for good with three runs in the fifth. Jeff Salazar walked and stole second, took third on a flyout by Worth, and scored on a single by Santos. Dirks then launched a 2-1 pitch from Reineke off the buildings behind the right-field fence for his seventh home run of the year.

"He's a little bit of an igniter," Nevin said of Dirks, who finished with three hits and three RBIs. "That's no disrespect to Will Rhymes -- actually, I think Rhymes is going to thrive in the second spot in the order between Dirks and Timo Perez.

"I've always liked having a guy who can pop a [home run] leading off the game. It's only 1-0, but it can give a team a shot in the arm. We'll try this for a little while and see how it goes."

The Hens broke the game open with a five-run seventh that included a sacrifice fly by Perez, an RBI double by Ben Guez, a run-scoring single by Scott Thorman and a two-run triple by Salazar that capped the rally.

Santos also joined Dirks with three hits and scored twice, while Thorman added a pair of singles.

NOTES: Hermida and Louisville manager Rick Sweet both were ejected for arguing a swing on a third strike that ended the sixth. ... The Mud Hens will add LHP Ramon Garcia to the roster Wednesday, and Garcia will start that night when Toledo returns home to start a four-game series with Buffalo. ... Sunday night's crowd of 10,300 was the Mud Hens' 26th sellout this season and the 294th in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field.

Turner fans 8 in first win - Toledo Blade

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Oliver shuts down Bats as Hens get win

Left-hander outduels ex-Reds starter Volquez

LOUISVILLE -- Andy Oliver was faced with a big challenge Monday night, and he passed with flying colors, getting the victory in Toledo's 3-2 win over Louisville.

Oliver was matched up against Louisville's Edinson Volquez -- the Reds' opening day starter -- and he held the Bats to one run and three hits in seven innings. Oliver started the game by striking out five of the first six batters he faced. He didn't surrender his first hit until Juan Francisco led off the fourth inning with a double.

The Bats pushed across the game's first run in the fifth.

Oliver started the inning by giving up a pair of singles and a walk. Kristopher Negron then drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to left.

However, Oliver escaped any additional trouble, which turned out to be key because Volquez was mowing down the Hens. The right-hander set down the first 15 batters he faced.

However, the Hens broke through in the sixth when Jeff Salazar opened the frame with a walk. Danny Worth got the Hens' first hit and produced their first run when he smacked an RBI double to center to bring Salazar around to score. Following an Omir Santos sacrifice bunt, the Hens took the lead when Andy Dirks blooped a single to center to drive in Worth.

The Bats had an opportunity for a big inning in the seventh when their first two hitters reached base. However, the momentum of the entire inning turned when Negron attempted a sacrifice.

It appeared at first that Negron could have been hit by the pitch. However, the home plate umpire decided that Negron made an attempt to bunt and a strike was a called. With the runners dashing for second and third on the bunt attempt, Santos nailed the runner at third.

Toledo pushed across an insurance run in the eighth. Worth started the inning with a leadoff walk, then stole second, and advanced to third on a Santos sacrifice bunt.

Will Rhymes singled in Worth to extend Toledo's lead to 3-1.

The Bats got a run closer in the eighth when Jeremy Hermida drove in a run with a single. However, Enrique Gonzalez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 10th save.

Oliver shuts down Bats as Hens get win - Toledo Blade

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Bats clobber Mud Hens

LOUISVILLE -- Devin Mesoraco hit two home runs and Mike Costanzo and Danny Dorn added solo shots as Louisville defeated the Mud Hens 10-3 Tuesday night.

Toledo held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, but the Bats scored two in the bottom of the inning to go ahead and then exploded for six runs in the seventh against Toledo reliever Jose Ortega to put the game away

Mesoraco went 4-for-4 with five RBIs. Juan Francisco went 2-for-4 with a double and a two-run triple as the Bats finish the season series with the Hens with a 12-9 record.

Mud Hens starter Thad Weber took the loss for the Hens, though he didn't allow the bulk of the runs. Weber (5-10, 5.46) went six innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out six. The Bats did the rest of the damage off Ortega.

Ben Guez went 3-5 and scored two of Toledo's three runs.

Ortega came in the seventh inning looking to hold the Bats scoreless to keep the game close.

The Bats, however, had other plans and sent nine men to the plate, scoring six of them. Devin Mesoraco lifted a towering blast completely out of Louisville Slugger Field for his second home run of the game and 15th of the season.

The shot traveled an estimated 471 feet, good for fifth longest in stadium history.

Danny Dorn then followed two pitches later with another towering home run to right-center field to make the score 10-3.

Mesoraco had tied the game earlier at 1-1 with a solo home run clearing the seats in left field in the bottom of the fourth. An inning later, another solo home run by Costanzo that narrowly cleared the fence in right gave the Bats their first lead of the game, 2-1.

The Mud Hens jumped back on top in the sixth off Carroll. Guez singled and Scott Thorman followed with a walk.

After a sacrifice bunt, Guez scored on a groundout by Argenis Diaz to tie the game and Omir Santos drove in Thorman with a single to center to give the Mud Hens a 3-2 lead. Carroll would leave in the middle of the following at-bat with an 0-2 count on Jeff Salazar.

Nick Christiani came in and threw one pitch, a called strike three, to retire the side and Salazar.

The Mud Hens return to Fifth Third Field Wednesday night for a six-game homestand against Buffalo and Indianapolis.

Bats clobber Mud Hens - Toledo Blade

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Grand slam lifts Mud Hens over Buffalo




The Hens' Scott Thorman was able to get around Buffalo's Raul Chavez at the plate to score. THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Photo Reprints

It’s been so long since Tim Teufel was a Mud Hen, the only thing he recognized Wednesday was Jim Weber in the radio booth.

“This is my first time back,” said Teufel, who now manages the Buffalo Bisons. “It’s been a while — 1983 is a long time ago. A lot of things have happened since then.

“I’ve been married 29 years, I’ve had four kids. But it’s great to be back. It definitely drums up a lot of memories.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Buffalo at Mud Hens 8-24-11

Wednesday’s game probably won’t be a pleasant memory for Teufel as Toledo’s Danny Worth hit a grand slam to lead the Hens to a 7-6 win. The last time the 52-year-old was in town, he had a season to remember.

In 1983 Teufel cracked 27 home runs and finished with 100 RBIs to earn the International League’s MVP that season.

“I had three home runs in one game, and something clicked with my swing,” Teufel said. “I got a lot of good pitches to hit, saw the ball well, and from that point on I kept hitting the ball hard.”

Teufel went on to an 11-year career in the major leagues, playing mostly for Minnesota (1983-85) and the New York Mets (1986-91).

“I scouted for a couple of years [after that], but my itch is [to be] on the field,” Teufel admitted. “I love managing, because I love being involved in the day-to-day.”

This is Teufel’s eighth season as a manager, but he said he doesn’t spend time worrying about advancing to the majors.

“I don’t put that forecast hat on too often,” he said. “I usually work day-to-day. I just work to get the guys better and get them ready for the big leagues.

“If [Mets manager] Terry Collins calls down and needs a player, I want that guy to be ready. I focus on that right now. If something happens in the realm of the big leagues, that would be great. It’s my goal, but it’s not my focus.”

On Wednesday, Teufel saw his team take leads of 3-0 and 5-3, only to have the Hens mount comebacks.

The Bisons broke on top with a three-run first inning off Toledo starter Fu-Te Ni, but the Mud Hens tied the game in the bottom of the second.

Scott Thorman got things started with a double to the wall in left-center, and with two outs Argenis Diaz lined a single to center.

Jesus Feliciano got to the ball quickly and threw home.

The ball beat Thorman to the plate, but the throw was slightly off line, forcing Buffalo catcher Raul Chavez to the left of the dish, and Thorman was able to tiptoe past Chavez and touch the plate for the run.

Three pitches later Max St-Pierre slammed a long home run to left-center, his fourth this season.

“I think guys feed off that,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said of the rally. “Two-out rallies seem to change momentum.”

Buffalo regained the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, but in the bottom of the inning the Hens loaded the bases with no one out thanks to a pair of singles sandwiched around a hit batsmen.

The Bisons got two outs without allowing the run to score, but Worth slammed the first pitch from Gustavo Chacin over the fence in left for his eighth home run of the year.

“I’m just trying to pick my teammates up [in that situation],” Worth said. “I’ve been there before; you feel terrible, and it feels great when someone behind you picks you up. You don’t feel as bad.

“I was just trying to get a single, but he threw a change-up and he left it up. I was sitting on the [fastball], but I put a good swing on it.

“That was fun, especially to put the team up late in the game.”

NOTES: With Lehigh Valley’s win Wednesday night the Mud Hens were officially eliminated from the IL playoffs. … Before the game Hens catcher Omir Santos left the clubhouse and is expected to join Detroit Thursday to replace Miguel Cabrera, who is taking a paternity leave. … C Jeff Kunkel has been called up from Hi-A Lakeland to take Santos’ spot on the roster. … OF Andy Dirks did not play Wednesday because of soreness with his hand. Nevin said Dirks is day-to-day.

Grand slam lifts Mud Hens over Buffalo - Toledo Blade

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Mud Hens don't need bats to win

Walks, beaned batter produce runs



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For the second night in a row, the Mud Hens delivered with bases loaded to beat Buffalo at home.

This one, though, lacked the pronounced excitement of Wednesday when Danny Worth smacked a grand slam in the sixth inning of a 7-6 win. The four runs the Hens produced Thursday night, on three bases-loaded walks and a hit batsman, were the delayed equivalent of a towering drive with the bases covered.

Yep, the Hens sent four runners home in a 6-1 win by not even swinging the bat.

“We just took advantage of a guy who was having trouble finding the zone,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said.

That guy was Bisons starter Mark Cohoon, who was a total mess in his 1⅔ innings of work. Cohoon was pulled after walking his sixth batter and the third with the bases full. Having pitched well in his three previous outings, Cohoon (4-9) threw 74 pitches, and only 36 for strikes.

Those getting an RBI by not swinging at Cohoon’s offerings were Ben Guez, Audy Ciriaco, and Jeff Salazar. Guez would later bring another run home when he was plunked in the seventh by reliever Justin Hampson with the bases loaded.

“That guy just couldn’t find it,” said Worth, who had three singles. “It seemed like he had everyone at 2-0, 3-1, 3-0.”

Ramon Garcia (1-3) notched his first win of the season, scattering seven hits over 5⅓ inning. The lone run given up by Garcia came on a single by No. 9 hitter Salomon Manriquez with two outs in the second.

In taking the first two games of the four-game series, the Hens climbed to 64-70. Buffalo (57-75) took three of four from the Hens earlier this month.

Will Rhymes led off the bottom of the first with a single, and Worth followed with another.

After Timo Perez bunted to move his teammates into scoring position, Cohoon walked Ryan Strieby to load the bases, and Guez to put the Hens up 1-0. Two batters later shortstop Ciriaco saw four balls to score Worth.

Strieby added a RBI single with the bases loaded in the second inning but that’s about the extent of the damage the Hens managed to inflict when Cohoon wasn’t walking them. In fact, the 17 runners left stranded is a season high, breaking the mark of 15 set May 24 against Pawtucket.

“At the end of the day we had a lot of chances to blow the game open and we didn’t,” Nevin said. “But we took good bats throughout the lineup.

“When you get a starting pitcher to throw 74 pitches in an inning and two thirds, you think you’d get more than four runs off of him.”

Garcia was efficient, and got a tad lucky in the fifth inning. Right fielder Paul Reyes led off the inning with a shot to right center that bounced off of the top part of the wall and rocketed back onto the field. Reyes apparently thought the ball cleared the fence, so he slowed down rounding second base and was caught in a run down and tagged out at third. Manriquez followed with a single with no one on base.

Garcia ran into trouble in the sixth inning, allowing a pair of singles before being pulled. Matt Hoffman entered the game and induced two ground ball outs to get out of the jam.

Robbie Weinhardt pitched the final two innings in relief, striking out two and allowing one hit.

The Hens gave away a run in the fifth inning under bizarre circumstances. Buffalo’s second baseman Luis Figueroa dropped a throw from shortstop Jordany Valdespin, and the Hens’ Max St-Pierre headed for home only to be told to go back to third because Rhymes inexplicably picked up the ball at second and handed it to Figueroa. When he did that, the umpires ruled the play dead.

The Hens scored their final run when St-Pierre singled in the eighth and left fielder Fernando Perez couldn’t come up with it cleanly, allowing Ciriaco to touch home.

“Near the end of the game, I was thinking, geez, it feels like we totally smashed them today,” Worth said. “But the game’s still close and they can come back into it in the matter of a couple of swings.”

Mud Hens don't need bats to win - Toledo Blade

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Turner combines with relievers to pitch shutout



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Pity Buffalo manager Tim Teufel.

Friday night he brought in a left-handed pitcher to face three left-handed hitting Mud Hens. Those three Hens — Will Rhymes, Justin Henry and Timo Perez — combined to produce the only run in Toledo’s 1-0 win at Fifth Third Field.

“It just so happened our guys got good at-bats,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “And it doesn’t matter against Timo — he gets good at-bats against everybody.”

Buffalo lefty Justin Hampson came on in the eighth with two outs and no one on base and quickly got ahead of Rhymes 0-2 — then hit Rhymes with a pitch.

Henry lined a single into left field to push Rhymes to second and set the table for Perez, who stroked a sharp single to center. Rhymes steamed home and just beat the tag at the plate to score the run.

The run was enough for the Hens to claim their 12th consecutive win over the Bisons at Fifth Third Field because Toledo starter Jacob Turner combined with relievers Brayan Villarreal and Enrique Gonzalez for the team’s third shutout this season.

Turner was especially sharp, allowing just four hits and one walk in six scoreless innings in his first Toledo start on five days rest.

The 20-year-old had taken 10 days off before the first two Hens starts.

“I expected him to be a little crisper,” Nevin said of Turner. “That didn’t mean he would have better numbers. But I expected him to throw more strikes and be crisper with his pitches.”

Turner had an especially sharp curve that allowed him to fan six hitters in his six innings. What’s more, the 20-year-old top prospect needed just 66 pitches to cover six innings, throwing first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 22 batters he faced (63.6 percent) and reaching a two-ball count to just four hitters (18.2 percent).

“I felt I got into my groove a lot earlier,” he said. “Whenever you can do that, it makes the start easier.

“I was throwing the breaking ball for a strike, and for a ball when I needed to, which obviously helped a lot.

“And I think coming back on five days [rest] made a difference. My stuff was a little sharper and I was a little more comfortable out there.”

The problem for the Hens was that Buffalo starter Dylan Owen also threw well, allowing just five hits and two walks while striking out seven in 7? innings. Owen had retired the last 12 hitters he had faced before Teufel replaced him with Hampson.

“He does everything well: he’s quick to the plate with runners on, he throws a lot of strikes with his fastball early in the count, and he has a decent breaking ball,” Nevin said of Owen. “He pounds the strike zone. To me, he’s pretty good.”

NOTES: Andy Dirks served as a pinch-runner for Perez in the eighth. He still is day-to-day with a hand injury. ... Friday night’s crowd of 10,300 was the Mud Hens’ 27th sellout this season and the 295th in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field.

Turner combines with relievers to pitch shutout - Toledo Blade

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Hens’ dominance stopped

1st loss to Bisons since ‘08 season




Toledo shortstop Audy Ciriaco tags out Buffalo's Jordany Valdespin (4) at second base during the first inning Saturday at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens’ recent domination of Buffalo at Fifth Third Field came to an end Saturday night when the Bisons claimed a 3-2 victory.

After winning the final meeting in Toledo in 2008, Toledo swept the Bisons in both 2009 and ‘10. That means the Hens entered Saturday night’s game with a 12-game winning streak against the Herd.

That was more than double the Hens’ next-longest streak, the six-consecutive games the Hens won against Pawtucket from 2004-06.

The culprits in Saturday night’s loss, which ended Toledo’s modest three-game losing streak, were a Hens offense that didn’t take advantage of its opportunities, and a Buffalo offense that did.

In the early innings the Mud Hens had plenty of baserunners, but Toledo went just 1-for-7 when batting with a runner in scoring position.

“We’ve been swinging the bats well, but we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities in this game,” Nevin said. “We didn’t get the big hit when we had runners out there, and their bullpen did a good job late.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more pictures from the Mud Hens-Bisons game

READ MORE: Wilk named player of year

The Hens scored a run in the first when Justin Henry singled, went to third on a single by Timo Perez, and scored on a groundout by Scott Thorman. Their third-inning run came when Will Rhymes singled, moved to second on a hit-and-run groundout, and scored on the second of three hits on the night by Perez.

That was it for the Hens, who collected just two singles off the Buffalo bullpen in the final five innings.

Meanwhile the Bisons offense took advantage of a couple of mistakes by Toledo starter Andy Oliver to score its runs.

In the third inning Jordany Valdespin reached on a one-out single. With two outs, Oliver got behind Zach Lutz 3-0, and Lutz lined the pitch like a laser beam into the scoreboard in left field for his 11th home run this season.

The second mistake came in the sixth when he walked Valentino Pascucci with one out, paid no attention to the 6-foor-6, 268-pound designated hitter. Pascucci promptly stole second base — his first steal of the season — and the mistake proved painful when Josh Satin was able to bloop a good slider over the head of Ryan Strieby at first base for an RBI single.

“That’s baseball — you’re going to make good pitches and guys are going to get hits like Satin did,” Oliver said. “Sometimes it works for you, some times it doesn’t.

“You just have to focus on the next pitch, trust your stuff and try to get the next guy out.”

Oliver allowed five hits but walked four in his six innings, throwing strikes with just 60 of his 104 pitches.

“Early in the count fastball command just wasn’t there,” Nevin said of Oliver. “There were a lot of 2-0, 3-0 counts.

“And when he did make a good pitch to jam [satin], he was able to get it down the line to score the go-ahead run.”

The Mud Hens continue their homestand tonight with the first of two games against Indianapolis. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

NOTES: Tigers IF Carlos Guillen worked out with the Mud Hens Saturday. Guillen, who is coming back from a wrist injury, will play for the Mud Hens Monday when Toledo hosts Indianapolis. ... IF Danny Worth was demoted from Detroit to Toledo. Henry was send to Double-A Erie to make room for Worth on the roster. ... Saturday night’s crowd of 11,000 was the Mud Hens’ 28th sellout this season and the 296th full house in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field.


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Ciriaco brothers battle on diamond




The Mud Hens’ Audy Ciriaco makes a play at shortstop for the Mud Hens. It was the first time in his life that he and his brother, Pedro, have played against each other. THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Photo Reprints

Brothers Audy and Pedro Ciriaco experienced a first at Fifth Third Field Sunday night.

“This is the first time I’ve ever played against him,” Audy Ciriaco said of his brother. “We always played on the same team growing up — until he moved up and played with the older guys.

“I’ve always wanted to play against him, to see what he does and how he looks.”

Pedro and his Indianapolis teammates earned bragging rights in the Ciriaco family Sunday night by scoring five times in the tenth inning to claim an 8-3 victory over the Mud Hens.

The setback guarantees that Toledo can finish no better that .500 this season, and the Hens’ 38th home loss ties this year’s club with last year’s team for the most home losses in a season since the Mud Hens moved to Fifth Third Field in 2002. Toledo still has three home games left to play.

That took none of the lustre off the night for the two shortstops, who grew up in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. The pair met on the field to talk before the game, then shared a word whenever one of the brothers reached second base.

“I like to talk to him, to see how he feels and what he’s doing,” Audy Ciriaco said. “We talk a lot, about every move we make and what’s going on.

“If we’re going good or going bad, we try to keep in touch and talk about it.”

Pedro Ciriaco, who will be 26 in September, has split time this season between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, where he batted .250 in 11 games. Audy Ciriaco, who turned 24 in June, spent most of this season with Double-A Erie, where he hit .277 in 101 games for the SeaWolves.


Indianapolis’ Pedro Ciriaco, the older of the two brothers, has played for both the Triple-A Indians and its major league club, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both he and his brother Audy play shortstop. THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The younger Ciriaco said he likes using his older brother as a source for learning how to handle different situations in his climb up the minor-league leader.

“Whenever I feel bad or good, I try to talk to him,” Audy Ciriaco said. “He has played at the big-league level, so I like to talk to him about his experiences — what to do, what pitches to look for, things like that.”

Sunday night Pedro Ciriaco went 2-for-6, scoring twice and driving in one run, while Audy Ciriaco collected one hit in four at-bats in a game that was decided by a five-run outburst by Indianapolis in the tenth.

In that inning the Indians sent 10 batters to the plate, with a two-run double by Matt Hague and a long two-run homer by Pedro Alvarez serving as the big hits in the rally.

The five-run outburst was started by a walk, as was the Indians’ two-run rally in the sixth.

“In a tight game, execution is the key,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “And in those tight games, when you don’t execute it becomes more glaring.

“Our pitchers walked the leadoff man twice, and those innings became big innings for them. On offense, we didn’t get a bunt down in the right spot, and that hurt us.”

Toledo scored twice in the fourth on an RBI single by Scott Thorman and a fielder’s choice groundout by Jeff Salazar, and the Hens’ tied the game in the seventh on an RBI hit by Omir Santos.

In the seventh the Mud Hens allowed a first-and-third, one-out situation go without scoring again.

The Indians’ Justin Thomas, a Clay High School graduate, shut down Toledo on just one hit and one walk in 2? innings, striking out five of the ninth hitters he faced to claim the win.

“Especially late, we had some opportunities — and we just didn’t get the big hit,” Nevin said.

NOTES: Before the game Nevin said that Tigers 2B Carlos Guillen will begin a rehab assignment by playing second for the Mud Hens Monday night when they host Indianapolis, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. Guillen will DH for the Hens Tuesday in Indianapolis, then play second base on Wednesday before a probable return to Detroit Thursday, the day major league rosters expand. ... Nevin said OF Andy Dirks should be healthy enough to play Monday. Dirks has not batted in a game since the Hens returned home last Wednesday, although he has run the bases and played defense. ... The Tigers announced that RHP Jacob Turner will be called up to Detroit to start against Kansas City Sept. 1. Nevin said after the game that LHP Adam Wilk will come off the disabled list to take Turner’s scheduled start for Toledo, which will be Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Ciriaco brothers battle on diamond - Toledo Blade

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Indy scorches Hens late

Ni-Figueroa battle gives pitching lesson without heat



For baseball fans mesmerized by high-octane fastballs and enthralled by triple-digit pitch speeds, Monday night's Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field was a textbook example of the art of pitching.

Toledo's Fu-Te Ni and Nelson Figueroa of Indianapolis never once threw a pitch that topped 90 miles per hour, yet they spent most of the night teasing and tantalizing hitters before twisting them into knots.

When the Hens' Brayan Villarreal came on in the eighth, throwing fastballs hovering in the mid-90s, the Indians scored five times -- four coming on a grand slam by Pedro Alvarez -- and added a pair of runs in the ninth for a 9-1 win.

"They don't light up a radar gun, but [Ni and Figueroa] know how to pitch," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "They keep guys off-balance, get ahead of the batters and throw strikes. Guys who throw 95-96 can still get hit around a little bit. They could watch [Ni and Figueroa] and really learn how to pitch."

Ni struggled in the first inning, giving up a run on a two-out double by Matt Hague. In the third he gave up a leadoff home run to Jordy Mercer to make it 2-0 Indianapolis. Worse, by inning's end he had thrown 68 pitches.

"We were a little short in the bullpen after doing some matchup things the past couple of days," Nevin said. "After the first couple of innings I was worried because Ni threw a lot of pitches, but after that he was great. His last four innings were perfect -- and they were all under 10 pitches."

Ni retired the last 15 batters he faced and finished with eight strikeouts, one shy of his season high.

The problem was that Figueroa was just as sharp, throwing a complete-game eight-hitter, striking out 10 Mud Hens.

He escaped danger in the second when, with two outs and Ben Guez on second, Jeff Salazar hit a looping liner that eluded Mercer at second. Guez broke back to second as if to avoid being doubled up, then was only able to reach third, where he was stranded when Audy Ciriaco grounded out.

Toledo's lone run came in the third when Andy Dirks singled, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Timo Perez.

The 37-year-old Figueroa, who spent time with Houston but was released by the Astros in early August, threw an amazing 93 of his 124 pitches for strikes and did not walk a batter to throw the Indians' first complete game of the season,

"I've had a hard year, but pitching like this puts a little kid's glow in my eyes," he said. "[indianapolis manager] Dean [Treanor] kept looking at me in the late innings, and I kept looking right back. I wasn't going to give the ball up easily."

Many of Villarreal's problems in the late innings were of his own making. In the eighth he reached an 0-2 count on three straight hitters, only to give up two singles before hitting a batter to load the bases. Alvarez promptly unloaded them with a moonshot home run to right-center.

In the ninth Villarreal failed to cover first in time on a single that put two runners on base with two outs, then missed the target so badly he threw a wild pitch that pushed the runners in scoring position for a two-run single by John Bowker.

NOTES: The Mud Hens are guaranteed to have a losing record this season. ... The loss also was Toledo's 39th at Fifth Third Field, the most in a single season at the 10-year-old ballpark. ... Carlos Guillen went 1-for-3 with a double, his first game in his second rehab stint with the Mud Hens. Guillen is expected to DH tonight in Indianapolis and return to second base Wednesday. ... LHP Adam Wilk is expected to come off the disabled list tomorrow to start for the Hens. He will replace RHP Jacob Turner, who will be promoted to Detroit to start for the Tigers Thursday.

Indy scorches Hens late - Toledo Blade

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Indianapolis tops Hens with RBI single in 12th


INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis scored an unearned run in the bottom of the 12th inning to defeat the Toledo Mud Hens 5-4.

Miles Durham singled to open the bottom of the 12th and went to second when Toledo outfielder Andy Dirks misplayed the hit.

Durham stayed at second when Gorkys Hernandez flied out to center, but scored the winning run on Pedro Ciraco's single to center.

Toledo took an early 3-0 lead, scoring once in the second and twice in the third.

Carlos Guillen singled to open the second, Ryan Strieby walked, and Ben Guez singled to load the bases with no one out.

Danny Worth then walked to force in the first run of the game, but that was all Toledo could get out of the bases-loaded situation as the next three batters lined out without advancing the runners.

In the third, Will Rhymes singled to open the inning, then stole second with one out. Guillen's double brought home Rhymes.

Strieby then singled, sending Guillen to third. Guez flied out, but Worth then singled to score Guillen.

Indianapolis came up with three runs in the fourth, scoring all three with two outs.

Jordan Mercer's home run in the fifth gave the Indians a 4-3 lead.

The Hens tied the game in the eighth against reliever Aaron Heilman.

Dirks doubled to open the inning, went to third on Rhymes' sacrifice, and scored on Timo Perez's double.

Indianapolis loaded the bases with two out in their half of the eighth, but reliever David Purcey, who had replaced Robbie Weinhardt, managed to quell the threat.

Indianapolis had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 11th when it loaded the bases with two out on two singles and an intentional walk, but Enrique Gonzalez, who had replaced

Purcey at the start of the inning, kept the game tied by striking out pinch hitter Jeff Clement.

Hens starter Ramon Garcia gave up the Indians' first four runs. Weinhardt and Purcey allowed no runs in five innings of relief. Gonzalez (4-6) took the loss.

Guillen, on a rehab assignment for Detroit, was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Rhymes was 3-for-5 and Worth 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Indianapolis tops Hens with RBI single in 12th - Toledo Blade

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Wilk struggles in return from DL as Mud Hens fall


INDIANAPOLIS -- Toledo starting pitcher Adam Wilk struggled in his return from the disabled list yesterday as the Indianapolis Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Mud Hens with a 6-2 victory at Victory Field.

The Indians scored four runs in the third inning to knock Toledo starter Adam Wilk from the game after just 21⁄₃ innings.

Wilk (8-6), who was placed on the DL for an elbow injury in mid-August, faced the minimum number of batters in the first and second innings but immediately ran into trouble in the third.

Indianapolis' Eric Fryer reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Audy Ciriaco to lead off the third. Miles Durham followed with a single, and Gorkys Hernandez reached base on a bunt.

Pedro Ciriaco drew a bases-loaded walk to score Fryer, and Durham scored on a Brian Bocock sacrifice fly. Jordy Mercer then hit a single to center field, scoring Hernandez and Ciriaco and giving the Indians a 4-0 lead.

Toledo managed to cut the deficit to 4-1 in the fourth after Andy Dirks smacked a lead-off double to right field and scored on a Danny Worth single.

But Indianapolis (74-66) struck again in the fourth with an RBI single by Pedro Ciriaco and in the fifth when Mercer smacked a solo home run to left field.

Both runs were charged to reliever Jose Ortega.

Indians starter Jeff Locke struck out eight and allowed just one run on three hits in seven dominant innings to earn his first career Triple-A victory.

In the eighth, Toledo's Jeff Salazar hit a one-out double to right field off of Indians reliever Garrett Olson. Salazar went to third on a single by Audy Ciriaco and scored on a sacrifice fly by Omir Santos.

Carlos Guillen, in a rehab assignment from Detroit, went 0-3 with a strikeout, snapping his 10-game Triple-A hitting streak.

After an off day Thursday, the Hens (65-75) travel to Columbus for two games before wrapping up the season at Fifth Third Field with two games against the Clippers.

Wilk struggles in return from DL as Mud Hens fall - Toledo Blade

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Columbus’ Laporta drives in 2

The Toledo Mud Hens offense could not come up with enough offense late in the game Friday night, falling to the Columbus Clippers 4-3.

Down 4-2 in the ninth, the Hens made some noise as Ryan Strieby knocked in a run — giving him 73 RBIs on the season. Yet, Scott Thorman grounded out with Danny Worth on second to end the game.

Andy Oliver (8-12) pitched well in defeat, striking out six and allowing three runs in six innings of work. Strieby, Thorman, and Audy Ciriaco each contributed with an RBI each.

The Mud Hens (65-76) started off strong and loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, but the offense sputtered and Toledo was only able to cash in one run when Thorman singled to right field to plate Justin Henry.

The Hens held the Clippers (87-54) until the fourth when Columbus struck for two runs. Both runs came on bases loaded walks dished out by Oliver. The Clippers extended their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth after Matt Laporta pulled a home run over the left field fence.

Strieby started the sixth off with a single. Two batters later, Clete Thomas singled to center, advancing Strieby to second. Jeff Salazar added a single of his own to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Ciriaco scored Strieby and brought the Hens within one at 3-2. The Mud Hens failed to do further damage as Omir Santos grounded out to end the inning.

Laporta knocked in a run in the bottom of the seventh to put the Hens in a 4-2 hole.


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Clippers beat up on Weber

Sizemore, Talbot lead way for Clippers

COLUMBUS — The Columbus Clippers had a familiar look for Indians fans Saturday night.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t good news for the Mud Hens, who were beaten 7-6.

Grady Sizemore continues to work his way back from a knee injury and started in center field and went 1-for-5 with an RBI. He was joined in the starting lineup by Luis Valbuena, Matt LaPorta, and Trevor Crowe — all who were either with Cleveland this year or last. Mitch Talbot, who started this season in the Indians’ rotation, started last night for the Clippers and got the victory by pitching five innings and surrendering three runs.

The Clippers started fast, scoring four runs in the first inning. After Sizemore led off the inning with a groundout, Valbuena blasted a home run to right field off Hens starter Thad Weber. Crowe then grounded out, but LaPorta followed with a single and came home on a two-run homer by Jared Goedert. Beau Mills then added a third homer later in the inning.

Weber was knocked from the game after two innings. He surrendered five runs on eight hits and fell to 5-11 on the season.

The Hens made a push to get back into the game in the fifth inning. A Danny Worth double drove in Jeff Salazar and Omir Santos. Ben Guez later doubled to bring around Worth to cut the Clippers’ lead to 6-3. The Hens added another run in the top of the sixth when Timo Perez lined an RBI single to center.

Toledo inched even closer in the eighth inning, adding a pair of runs on RBIs singles from Perez and Clete Thomas.

Clippers closer Zach Putnam came out to get Guez to ground out to escape any additional trouble.

After giving up a leadoff walk to Audry Ciriaco in the ninth, Putnam put down the next three Hens hitters to notch his ninth save of the season.

The two teams will head to Toledo Sunday for the start of a season-ending series.

Clippers beat up on Weber - Toledo Blade

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Hens rally past Clippers




Toledo's Scott Thorman, left, and Clete Thomas celebrate after Thomas hit a home run in the sixth inning. THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens used a four-run rally in the sixth inning to claim a 6-2 win over Columbus at Fifth Third Field Sunday night.

Clete Thomas capped a 3-for-3 night at the plate with a two-run home run that got the rally rolling, and both Max St-Pierre and Justin Henry had RBI hits as Toledo snapped a seven-game losing streak.

“He was swinging it well before he broke his finger [Aug. 19],” Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Thomas. “He missed a couple of weeks, and he picked right up where he left off.

“What he’s done to bring his average up from the middle of July— when he was below .200 with a lot of at-bats — is impressive. He’s at .248 now, and if he gets above .250 [today] he’s coming out of the game.”

Trailing 2-1 entering the sixth, Scott Thorman opened the frame by beating out a bunt single down the third-base line against the Clippers, who were playing in a shift that had three infielders on the first-base side of the infield.

Ben Guez sacrificed Thorman to second, and Clete Thomas launched the next pitch by Columbus starter Joe Martinez off the buildings behind the right-field fence for his 12th homer .

Jeff Salazar then singled and stole second in front of a walk to Argenis Diaz, and St-Pierre brought Salazar home with a single to left. Henry then capped the rally with his run-scoring double high off the wall in right.

That was more than enough offense for Toledo starter Fu-Te Ni, who settled down after some early-inning struggles to hold the Clippers in check on six hits in 7.1 innings.

In the first, Columbus scored an unearned run off Ni, who surrendered a one-out double by Tim Fedroff before a two-out grounder by Travis Buck bounced away from Henry for an error that allowed Fedroff to score.

Toledo got that run back in the bottom of the first when Henry singled, then raced to third on a hit-and-run single by Danny Worth. Timo Perez hit into a double play that allowed Henry to score.

The Clippers retook the lead in the second when Thomas Neal beat out an infield single with one out, then took third on a two-out hit by Argenis Reyes. Luis Valbuena plated Neal with a sharp single to center.

But that was all the damage Columbus would do off Ni, who did not walk a batter while striking out two. After allowing a leadoff double by Jared Goedert in the third, Ni retired the next nine hitters in a row and 16 of the last 17 he faced.

“What he has done for us this year has been great,” Nevin said of Ni. “He’s a special guy to have around. He’s funny, he keeps us loose [in the clubhouse], and he takes the ball every fifth day.

“It may not start out pretty, but the next thing you know it’s the seventh inning — and he has pitched well.

“Today he said he wanted to get one more hitter. I told him he should get one more hitter, then come off the field and tip your cap to all the fans who are going to be cheering for you.”

Brendan Wise came on with one out in the eighth and allowed just an infield single while notching the final five outs of the game.

After the four-run rally in the sixth the Mud Hens added an insurance run in the seventh thanks in part to Thomas, who had singles in his two at-bats before the home run, drawing a two-out walk in the seventh. Thomas took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Salazar.

NOTES: The start of Sunday’s game was delayed 23 minutes by rain. ... Thomas went 4-for-5 for the Mud Hens in Columbus, meaning he has gone 7-for-8 plus a walk in his past two games. Thomas has reached base in his last six consecutive plate appearances. ... Every Mud Hen finished with at least one hit in the game. ... Sunday night’s crowd of 9,493 was the Mud Hens 29th sellout this season and the 297th in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field. ... The Mud Hens will close the season with a home game at 1 p.m. Monday against Columbus.

Hens rally past Clippers - Toledo Blade

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Wilk, Strieby help Hens close with win

Toledo finishes 67-77 in last place




Hens first baseman Ryan Strieby is congratulated by manager Phil Nevin after crushing a home run in the eighth inning Monday. THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Photo Reprints

The Mud Hens closed the books on the 2011 season with a 3-1 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field Monday.

And the final contest provided a sweet finish for several Hens.

One was starter Adam Wilk, who proved that the elbow problems that knocked him onto the disabled list in August are now behind him.

The left-hander allowed just four hits in 3⅓ scoreless innings, throwing strikes with 42 of his 57 pitches and finishing with six strikeouts and no walks.

"His velocity was good, and he threw each of his pitches for strikes," Toledo manager Phil Nevin said of Wilk. "The important thing with Adam is that we know he's healthy.

"Any time you have an elbow thing, you hope the treatment and rest [make it better]. To know that he's back is big."

Wilk was on a pitch-count Monday after pitching only once since Aug. 15. In his last start at Indianapolis, he allowed four hits and four runs in just 2⅓ innings and was saddled with the loss.

"The first couple of innings my velocity wasn't there, but in the last couple of innings it picked up a little bit," Wilk said of that previous start. "But in this start my elbow felt great, and I was able to throw with the crispness that I'm used to.

"It was a good start to finish the year with. I'll go to the off-season knowing that I can prepare myself for next season."

Toledo finished with a 67-77 record in last place in the International League West Divison, 21 games behind first-place Columbus.

While Wilk has spent time in Detroit this season, pitching in five games with the Tigers, he was not promoted following the game.

"Obviously I'm not happy that I didn't get called up, but that's not my decision," Wilk said. "It's been a good season, though. I was happy to be up there.

"[The Tigers] are only a few wins away from clinching the division, and to know that I was a part of that during the year was rewarding."

The three pitchers who followed Wilk Monday also were impressive. Jose Ortega came on in the fourth and retired the first eight batters he faced before the Clippers nicked him for an unearned run in the seventh. The 22-year-old right-hander, who has struggled with his control this season, struck out three and walked only one to claim his first Triple-A win.

"He threw a lot of strikes," Nevin said of Ortega. "He was starting to get up [in the strike zone] late, but he pounded the zone to the first hitters he faced."

Matt Hoffman retired all five hitters he saw, striking out three, while Enrique Gonzalez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 13th save.

Ryan Strieby had one last strong day. In the first inning he came up with teammates Justin Henry on third and Jeff Salazar on second and ground a single up the middle to score both baserunners and give the Hens an early 2-0 advantage.

He came up again in the eighth when Toledo clinging to a 2-1 lead and launched his team-leading 19th home run of the season over the fence in left-center.

Strieby's 2-for-4 effort with three RBIs closes the books on his struggles at season's end. He hit just .229 in August and was 1-for-10 in September before Monday.

"You always want to finish the season strong, and it was good to end this season on a good note," Strieby said. "I wasn't swinging it very well the last couple of weeks.

"Coming out in the final game and getting a couple hits to help the team win does make it a little sweeter."

Although Strieby led the Mud Hens in home runs, RBIs (76), runs scored (66), and walks (60), the 26-year-old slugger said he didn't set any numeric goals for himself.

"I just wanted to be able to come to the ballpark and be available to play, and I feel I did that," said Strieby, who played in just 76 games last season and 86 the year before because of wrist problems. "I feel I showed I can do that, and that's a big step for me."

NOTES: After the game the Tigers announced that IF Danny Worth would be promoted to Detroit and join the team in Cleveland Tuesday. Nevin and Hens trainer Matt Rankin also will join the Tigers for the final month of the season; both will join the Tigers Friday in Detroit. ... Monday's crowd of 8,265 lifts Toledo's season attendance total to 549,438 in 69 home openings, an average of 7,963 fans per game. The season's total is the seventh-largest in franchise history.

Wilk, Strieby help Hens close with win - Toledo Blade

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