Toledo's starting pitcher Blaine Hardy winds up as the rain pours down. Blade/Katie Rausch
The Mud Hens saw their five-game winning streak end in a game filled with hardships.
Toledo was strapped by injuries that left them so short-handed that two pitchers were used as pinch-runners, and two Hens were forced to play positions for the first time in their pro careers.
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A mid-game rain delay of nearly two hours threw things out of whack and made for trying field conditions, and an unusual 10:30 a.m. start was no fun, either.
But the biggest problem the Mud Hens could not overcome was an offense that produced just four singles in a 3-0 loss to Syracuse.
“We didn’t have to score many runs to win this game,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “But we didn’t mount anything. We didn’t before the rain, and we didn’t after the rain.”
Chiefs starter Taylor Hill and two relievers combined to allow just six Hens to reach base, and none of them advanced past second.
“We were able to get guys on — we just weren’t able to get the key hit,” Brandon Douglas said. “This would have been an awesome game to come back and win.
“It felt like we were missing a little something. I don’t know if all those [other] factors played a part. The bottom line was that we didn’t get it done.”
Mud Hens starter Blaine Hardy held Syracuse in check on one hit and two walks in four innings, but reliever Chad Smith struggled while pitching during a hard rain in the fifth. He gave up three groundball hits to load the bases for Emmanuel Burriss, who doubled into the left-field corner to score two runs.
“He had trouble with his grip, and he was jerking the ball,” Parrish said. “He got a couple of groundballs that got through [for hits].”
After Smith got the final outs in the top of the fifth, Hill needed just six pitches to retire the Hens in the bottom of the inning. Umpires then called for the tarp, and the teams sat through a 1-hour, 56-minute rain delay.
When the game resumed, the Hens’ injury problems caught up with them as Daniel Fields was hit by the second pitch thrown by Chiefs reliever Mike Gonzalez. Fields left the game, and because of injuries to Mike Hessman and Tyler Collins, Toledo used pitcher Jose Ortega as a pinch-runner.
To fill out the defensive lineup, catcher James McCann played third base and infielder Brandon Douglas shifted from third base to left field while Trevor Crowe replaced Fields in center. That marked the first time McCann had played any position besides catcher in a pro career that began in 2011, while Douglas saw his first outfield action since turning pro in 2008.
NOTES: Fields was taken for X-rays, and his status for today’s game is undetermined. … Derek Hankins was the pitcher who pinch-ran for Hessman. … Toledo’s second School Celebration Day of the season drew a crowd of 10,300 for the team’s fourth sellout this season. … Actor Bill Murray is featured on a Mud Hens promo for Ghostbusters Night on May 30. The team will wear Ghostbusters-themed uniforms in honor of the 30th anniversary of the movie.