Toledo’s Ezequiel Carrera is all smiles as stands on third base in the fourth inning of the Mud Hens’ 6-1 victory on Thursday. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
For Mud Hens outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, Thursday was a long day — but a good one.
“The flight was a little late, so I couldn’t get here for [batting practice],” Carrera said.
“But [the All-Star Game] was a good experience for me.”
Carrera flew back to Toledo from Durham, N.C., where he represented the Hens in the Triple-A All-Star Game. While the rest of the team went home for a three-day break, Carrera took part in a variety of events in the days leading up to Wednesday’s All-Star contest, then had a hit and two stolen bases in the International League’s 7-3 victory.
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The speedy outfielder reached Fifth Third Field in time for Thursday’s game, and helped the Mud Hens knock off Louisville 6-1.
Carrera was 0-for-4 with a walk, which snapped his 15-game hitting streak. But after the game, he was not upset because the win was Toledo’s third in the past four games and moved the Hens to within three games of the .500 mark.
“I’m feeling good, and I’m happy for this team,” Carrera said. “This is a good group.”
Carrera, 27, has played a key role in the team’s success. The Venezuelan ranks among the International League leaders with a .319 batting average, and his 37 stolen bases easily tops the league.
“When you get a guy like him who can run, he helps the players behind him [in the batting order],” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said.
“Pitchers and catchers get concerned, so guys get more fastballs to hit.
“Defensively, he can get to a lot of balls in centerfield, and he has a pretty good arm. In my mind, he can help a major-league club.”
On Thursday, Toledo looked sharp in knocking off the Bats, getting timely hitting and pitching for the victory.
“We played really well,” Parrish said. “[Hens starter Kyle Lobstein] had a lot of traffic on the bases, but he made pitches when he needed to.
“And we did some good things on offense — moving guys over, getting guys in, and getting two-out hits.”
The Mud Hens scored a run in the second inning when James McCann singled, then came around to score from first on a double by Ben Guez.
After Louisville scored a run in the third, Toledo broke the game open with four runs in the fourth. Trevor Crowe got things rolling by drawing a walk, and was running when McCann doubled into the left-field corner, which allowed Crowe to score.
McCann moved to third on a flyout by Jordan Lennerton and, after Guez walked, McCann came home on a sacrifice fly by Wade Gaynor.
After a single by Brandon Douglas and a walk to Carrera loaded the bases, Hernan Perez lined a two-run single to right.
Perez also had a two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth and finished with three RBIs.
Lobstein had to negotiate plenty of Louisville traffic on the bases as the Bats collected seven hits and three walks in his seven innings. Four of the hits and all three walks came in the first three innings.
The Bats scored just one run as Lobstein held them hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“You just have to find a way [to get outs] in those situations,” he said. “You try to get them to hit the ball to your fielders, and you do everything you can to get out of those situations.”
Lobstein got sharper later in the game, retiring 13 of the last 16 hitters he faced.
NOTES: Danny Worth has left the Mud Hens to be with his wife as she prepares to give birth to the couple’s first child. … Mike Hessman was not in Toledo’s lineup because of continuing knee problems. Hessman has a chance to return to the lineup today. … Lennerton was hitless in four at-bats to snap an eight-game hit streak, but an infield hit by Tyler Collins gives him a nine-game hit streak.