TigsTown ATG: Louisville at Toledo

Mid-summer minor league baseball games are always exciting affairs. Even more so when two of the hottest teams in the IL West are involved. Tonight's game features the born-again Toledo Mud Hens and their division foe the Louisville Bats. May the best flying creature win.

Pre-Game:

It's Polish-American Day here at Fifth Third Field meaning anyone with a last name ending in ‘ski gets in for half price.

Verizon Wireless is sponsoring tonight's game, handing out thundersticks to fans and might I remind you they have the most reliable network, you can test drive it for 30 days.

Since it's Polish night I'd suggest handing out polish sausage and sauerkraut on but that's stereotyping only Gary Sheffield is capable of. By the way someone might want to tell Shef' that Latino Appreciation Night at Fifth Third is July 15.

Before we get underway here, I'd like to reiterate that the Mud Hens play at Fifth Third Field, not to be confused with Fifth Third Park. I don't know whose brilliant idea that was to name two minor league parks for the same parent club so closely- probably the same guy who thought it would be safe to let Paris Hilton out of jail 23 days early.

Game Time:

7:04 p.m.: First pitch thrown at 7:03. I hope I'm not missing a great Rod Allen pre-game analysis on the Tigers-Red Sox game over on Fox Sports Detroit, because "we playin' baseball now padnuh."

7:10: After a Bats leadoff double Mark Bellhorn steps into the batters box.

7:15: The Bats would be a great nickname for a team in wooden bat alley if the logo was a baseball bat instead of the nocturnal animal. I haven't seen a marketing miscommunication this large since Crystal Clear Pepsi was introduced.

7:18: Wait, Mark Bellhorn is still alive?

7:21: The Mud Hens are missing a key member of their lineup tonight. Outfielder Ryan Raburn was called up to Detroit this morning to play as a utility man replacing Niefi Perez who is serving a 25- game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Perez was batting .172 this season so he can use all the steroids he can get.

7:24: Mike Maroth had a better batting average this season than Perez, too bad for Maroth that means nothing as he was voted one of the softest pitchers in a recent player's poll conducted by Sports Illustrated

7:30: The ‘Hens also appeared in Sports Illustrated's July 2 issue as part of the "sign of the apocalypse" feature about the new team rule about wearing headphones while listening to music after Roman Colon haymakered Jason Karnuth.

7:37: Just found an interesting website which makes the case that Neifi Perez is the worst hitter in baseball of all-time.

7:38: No seriously:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-real-chase/

7:40: At the end of the third inning were still scoreless in Toledo but I'm happy to announce the gas prices are a solid 30 cents cheaper here than in Detroit.

7:45: Top of the fourth in Mudville and our highlight remains a 10-pitch strikeout by Dane Sardinha. You know if I wanted to see strikeouts I would have traveled to Tampa to watch the Devil Rays host the Royals.

7:51: Kevin Hooper just belted a foul ball into the street adjacent to the park. It'd be real cool if a bunch of kayakers were out there fighting over it like at McCovey Cove. Something just tells me industrial Toledo doesn't have the same appeal; it also doesn't have Rice-A-Roni.

8:56: Here's a nice change of pace for the Mud Hens- some good publicity. Their outfield seating section "the Roost" was named the best seats in the minor leagues. Best Seats in the minor leagues

8:00: Somewhere along the course of this snooze fest a baseball game broke out. Jack Hannahan just went yard for a solo home run, his 10th of the season. If Ron Jaworski were here he would probably say the Bats just got Jacked up.

8:03: Top of the fifth inning:

Bats: 0 1 0

‘Hens 1 2 1

8:20: The jumbo-tron kiss cam just focused on two Bats in the dugout and sure enough a third Bat came in and smooched them both. Take that San Francisco. Speaking of San Francisco some guy just caught a foul ball wearing a Nate Clemons jersey. I didn't know they even made Nate Clemons Jerseys.

8:25: Nothing's happening nothing's happening…

8:28: Nate Clemons just spilled himself over trying to grab another foul ball, but not before spilling his eighth beer all over the lady in front of him. Its class acts like that which makes Mud Hens baseball fun for the whole family.

8:37: "Big Red" in the batter's box wiggling his bat like Gary Sheffield, even though his batting skills as of late are closer to Jeremy Bonderman's, who by the way, is nearly deadlocked in bating average with Neifi.

8:39: Double by Shelton scores Hooper. As I said, Chris Shelton, the greatest batter since Ted Williams.

8:42: Tower of power Mike Hessman up to bat. Hessman is one of three Mud Hens selected to the all-star game and he will also compete in the Home Run Derby. Timo Perez and Ryan Raburn were also elected to the squad but something tells me Raburn isn't too excited about that honor anymore.

8:46: Raburn's new team just took an 8-1 lead over Boston with a Marcus Thames grand slam. Great news for Thames, not so great for Craig Monroe, or anyone from Boston.

8:48: After six innings it's Muddy Buddies 2, Flying Rats 0.

8:53: Three up, three down for the Bats, and now it's time for the seventh inning stretch, or the seventh inning bathroom break for those folks who had a little too much to drink in the parking lot before game time.

8:58: The intro music for Hooper's plate appearance is "Summer Love" by Justin Timberlake. I'm sure that really intimidates opposing pitchers.

9:01: After a walk to Hooper, the Bats are racking up minutes on their bull pen phone. But thanks to Verizon night minutes just started. Only from the largest, most reliable network.

9:05: No hits, no runs, no errors in the seventh.

9:08: That's going to be all for starting pitcher Jordan Tata (2-1) who will earn the win if the ‘Hens can hold on. Tata allowed three hits, no earned, two walks and four strikeouts with no wild pitches.

9:12: Eulogio De La Cruz coming on in relief for Tata, this is usually when Jason Karnuth would record a blown save, followed by a loss.

9:20: Shelton walks after a long at bat, capping off a decent night for the struggling first baseman, but Hessman strikes out meaning home run 27 will have to wait for another day for the big fella'.

9:31: And Brent Clevlen strikes out to end the eighth inning, Aquilino Lopez will have a two run lead to work with on his way to his 13th minor league save this season. De La Cruz finished with one hit and one strikeout in one inning which lasted 16 pitches.

9:35: Lopez is giving the home crowd a great show consisting of his best Fernando Rodney impression. That's a solo home run to Mark Bellhorn making the score 2-1 good guys.

9:40: Ball game, 2-1 in Toledo's favor. They split the two game series and retain the IL West lead. Tata gets the win and improves to 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,300.

Final Run line:

Bats: 1 5 0

‘Hens: 2 5 0

9:45: That's all for tonight, but if you think the Polish Awareness promotion was exciting stop by Fifth Third on June 12 for Strike Out High Cholesterol. Those vendors are determined to lower your LDL one Ball Park Frank at a time.


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