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Mud Hens run dry against Gwinnett

04/30/2014, 12:57am EDT
By BLADE STAFF

Toledo’s Hankins struggles against early hot streak of Braves’ Floyd

Mud Hens run dry against Gwinnett

Toledo’s Ezequiel Carrera is tagged out by Gwinnett’s Edward Salcedo while trying to steal third base during the first inning at Fifth Third Field. Rain delayed Tuesday’s game for 53 minutes. BLADE/LORI KING

The Mud Hens lost 5-1 before the rain and 4-1 after the rains at Fifth Third Field, and that added up to a 9-2 loss to Gwinnett Tuesday.

Braves starter Gavin Floyd pitched well early while Toledo starter Derek Hankins struggled, and Gwinnett also won the battle of the bullpens as the Hens lost for the third time in four games.

PHOTO GALLERY: Hens lose to Gwinnet

Floyd, who was signed by Atlanta as a free agent after missing all of 2013 because of Tommy John surgery, put together his best start in six rehab assignments.

Floyd allowed just four hits and one run, which came on a Trevor Crowe home run in the second, while striking out five.

“He was throwing four pitches [for strikes] — fastball, slider, change-up, and curve,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “He was using the slider as a ‘strike’ and his curve as his ‘kill’ pitch.

“He showed us two breaking balls,” Parrish added, “and the only time we had any success was when we hit first-pitch fastballs.”

Floyd threw 50 of his 77 pitches for strikes and sat consistently at the 92-93 mph range with his fastball while getting a number of swings and misses with both the slider and curve.

Floyd had left the Gwinnett clubhouse and was not available for comment after the game.

Meanwhile, Hankins was cuffed around in the first inning as the Braves sent eight batters to the plate and scored four times, thanks in part to five hits, the biggest being a two-out, two-run double by Mark Hamilton.

“A four-run hole is tough to climb out of,” Parrish said.

In the second Hankins gave up another double that turned into a fifth run before a discussion in the Toledo dugout helped turn around his effort.

“We told him he was [tipping his pitches] in his last start, but he misinterpreted when,” Parrish said about Hankins.

“He thought it was at the start of his delivery; he was tipping as he began his delivery,” Parrish said.

“After we told him, he made the adjustment and he was much better,” Parrish said.

Hankins retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, striking out four.

A 53-minute rain delay halted the game in the top of the sixth, but the Hens didn’t capitalize on continuing the contest.

Gwinnett got a run in the sixth on a two-out single off Nate Robertson, then tacked on three more runs off Robertson and Jhan Marinez in the eighth thanks to three hits and a Toledo error.

“We were behind, so obviously I wanted to keep playing,” Parrish said. “It was a battle between two bullpens, and we just didn’t do well there, either.”

The only run the Hens got was a home run by Luis Exposito with two outs in the seventh, his second of the season.

Exposito now has an eight-game hitting streak, the longest active streak on the team.

NOTES: The Mud Hens now are 5-11 at home, giving them the worst home record in the International League. … Mike Hessman was 2-for-4 with a double Tuesday, giving him nine hits in his last 17 at-bats (.529) and four RBIs. His nine hits include four doubles and a home run, and he also has walked five times. Hessman has 10 RBIs this season and needs five more to tie the all-time franchise record of 388 set by Bobby Veach from 1926-29.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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