Toledo MLN: Slow Start to Season for 'Hens

The Mud Hens opened the 2010 season with a 1-3 record in four home games against Louisville, scoring just five total runs in their three losses.

"We've pitched well enough to win every game," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "It really boiled down to three of the games where we just didn't hit enough. We could be 3-1 right now if we hit."

Despite the 1-3 record, Toledo had decent pitching with a 4.25 ERA over 36 innings. The pitching staff allowed 18 runs (17 earned) on 35 hits and 11 walks with 33 strikeouts.

The Hens' offense failed to support the solid pitching, hitting just .250 in four games against Louisville (3-1) with 34 hits in 136 at-bats. The team was aggressive, bordering on impatient, striking out 43 times while walking just five. Toledo's on-base percentage of .282 is the second lowest in the International League.

"We pitched pretty good and played pretty good defense," Parrish said. "We just didn't get the bats going yet."

Outfielder/first baseman Ryan Strieby has primarily spent his time in the outfield so far. Despite the new position, he's been one of the few bright spots for the offense, leading the team with a .357 average. He went 5-of-14 with a home run and two RBI.

Shortstop Brent Dlugach was as aggressive as any batter, striking out nine times. However, Dlugach and right fielder Brennan Boesch had nearly identical numbers, hitting 5-of-16 with one run scored and three RBI.

The offensive struggles continued yesterday as Toledo faced the Cincinnati Reds top pitching prospect in Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman.

"He's got a fast arm," Parrish said. "He's got a good fastball. If you play long enough, you're going to face guys like that."

The 22-year old broke 100 mph five times, pitching 101 mph three times with two strikes and a ball. Chapman demonstrated solid control, recording 55 strikes in 85 pitches. He pitched 4.1 innings in a non-decision, allowing one unearned run off five singles and a walk with nine strikeouts.

"The fastball was really good," Chapman said through his translator. "I feel comfortable with my fastball. The changeups, some worked good, but a lot did not come in how I want. The location wasn't there. Overall I don't feel good about my changeup today."

Enrique Gonzalez (0-1) started for Toledo yesterday and took the loss, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts. He retired the first two batters of yesterday's game before Chris Heisey hit a solo home run to give Louisville a 1-0 lead.

Toledo went three-up, three down in the bottom of the inning as Chapman earned two of his nine strikeouts.

The Hens loaded the bases in the second with three singles, but second baseman Danny Worth grounded out to end the inning.

Chapman retired seven-straight batters starting from the bottom of the third inning.

Wilkin Castillo hit a lead-off triple for Louisville to start the fifth. Zack Cozart drove him in with a double to take a 2-0 lead and knock Gonzalez out of the game. Daniel Schlereth entered the game and forced two groundouts to end the inning. Cozart tied a Fifth Third Field record as the eighth player ever with three doubles in the game.

Toledo loaded the bases again in the bottom of the inning off an error, a single and Chapman's first and only walk of the game. The walk brought Louisville manager Rick Sweet to the mound. Chapman stayed in but failed to cover first base as Boesch singled to drive in catcher Mike Rabelo.

"The connection went over the first base side," Chapman said. "I tried to grab the ball, but it was too far away from me."

Enerio Del Rosario replaced Chapman and Strieby flied out to end the inning.

"You always obviously would like to leave a guy out for a chance to get a win," Sweet said. "We're in the minor leagues. I definitely know what my job is in that situation. If he were in the big leagues they may have given him one more guy. He was at a pitch count we were pleased with. We gave him the one more guy with the left hander. He got an infield hit, there's nothing we could do about it."

The 'Hens managed just two hits in the final four innings. Chapman finished one out short of the win as Del Rosario (1-0) earned his first win of the season. He allowed one hit with four strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings. Jon Adkins recorded two groundouts and a strikeout in the ninth inning for his second save of the season.

Toledo lost 7-1 on Saturday despite five solid innings from Armando Galarraga (0-1). He showed good control, allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts and no walks for a 1.80 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP. Casey Fien and Robbie Weinhardt combined for five runs allowed off seven hits in three innings of relief. Neither team had a walk in the game. Strieby led the team offensively, going 3-of-4 at the plate with an RBI.

The 'Hens earned their first victory of the season with a 7-4 win over the Bats on Friday. Scot Drucker earned the win in 1.2 innings of relief, allowing one hit with three strikeouts. Jay Sborz had a strikeout in a perfect ninth inning for his first save. Phil Dumatrait started for Toledo, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks in four innings. Travis Wood (0-1) took the loss for Louisville, allowing five runs (one earned) in four innings on seven hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.

Clete Thomas, Robinzon Diaz, Dlugach and Boesch each hit 2-of-4 at the plate. Dlugach had three RBI while Thomas and Boesch had two RBI each.

The 'Hens lost the season opener 5-3 on Thursday, hitting 10-of-37 with two walks and seven strikeouts. Ruddy Lugo (0-1) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Sam LeCure (1-0) earned the win with two runs allowed on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts while Adkins earned his first save with one strikeout in the ninth.

Trailing 5-0, Strieby led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run over to right field. Jeff Larish followed with another homer in nearly the same spot. Frazier pinch ran after a double by Casper Wells and scored on an RBI groundout by Diaz.

Toledo hosts Indianapolis (2-2) today and tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. before starting an eight-game road trip.

Notes:

Parrish earned his 500th career win as manger of the Mud Hens in Friday's 7-4 victory. He is 500-481 since taking over in 2003. Cal Ermer has the most wins in Mud Hens history with 541 from 1978-84.

Opening day was the third-largest crowd in the history of Fifth Third Field with 12,711 fans in attendance.


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