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Norfolk continues mastery of Mud Hens

07/31/2014, 1:03am EDT
By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Tide still unbeaten against Toledo

Norfolk continues mastery of Mud Hens

Norfolk's Dariel Alvarez scores against Toledo catcher James McCann. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

You will have to excuse the Mud Hens if they would like to face another opponent today and Friday.

Based on the first six games Toledo has played against Norfolk this season, including Wednesday’s 6-0 loss at Fifth Third Field, the Hens just cannot beat the Tides.

Norfolk now has won all six games the two teams have played this season, continuing a recent trend that has seen the Tides win 13 of the last 14 meetings as well as go 20-2 against the Hens in the last three seasons.

This year, the six defeats have been especially painful, since Norfolk has outscored Toledo 14-3 in the first two games at home and 28-11 this year.

PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens fall to Norfolk 6-0

Perhaps the best example of the Hens’ struggles against the Tides came in the bottom of the sixth, with Toledo looking to claw back into a game trailing 5-0. The bases were loaded with two outs, and Ezequiel Carrera slammed a hard line drive to left.

Norfolk left fielder Francisco Peguero made a fine running catch before slamming into the wall, effectively slamming the door on the Hens offense as well.

“There were two outs, so the runners were running, and the guy who hit it is the fastest guy on the club,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “If that’s a hit, we probably score three runs and have a chance to score another.

“But that’s how our luck has gone against this club.”

Little went right for Toledo as Norfolk scored a run in the second, then broke the game open with a three-run third off starter Robbie Ray. Infield singles by Julio Borbon and Ivan De Jesus set the table for Steve Clevenger’s one-out RBI single off the right-field wall and a two-out, two-run base hit by Peguero.

In the fifth, Ray gave up a pair of singles before struggling with his control, walking Steve Lombardozzi to load the bases, giving Brian Ward a free pass with the bases loaded to force home a run.

“He threw some [breaking balls] that were pretty good and some that were not-so-good,” Parrish said of Ray, who allowed nine hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. “His problem was that he didn’t command his fastball.

“He missed a lot up and over the plate. They got a lot of hits off high fastballs.”

Peguero capped the Norfolk scoring by belting a home run in the seventh, his third of the year, to go 4-for-5 in the game with four RBIs.

Meanwhile the Mud Hens offense sputtered against Norfolk starter Mike Wright and three relievers. Toledo had at least one runner on base in every inning but the seventh, but was 0-for-6 when batting with a runner in scoring position to get shut out for the eighth time this season.

“When we won those five games after the All-Star break, we didn’t get a lot of hits — but our hits were timely,” Parrish said. “Right now we have some guys scuffling, and when you’re scuffling, the game seems to find you [for key at-bats].”

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 52 minutes by rain. ... Toledo has added LHP Kyle Ryan to the roster from Double-A Erie. Ryan was 7-10 with a 4.55 ERA in 21 starts with the SeaWolves.

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

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Tag(s): Pro  Mud Hens  John Wagner