Mud Hen’s manager Larry Parrish, left, fist-bumps Manny Pina on third base during a recent game. Toledo trails wild-card leader Pawtucket by 7½ games with 28 games to go this season. THE BLADE/LORI KING
By now, most sports fans are familiar with former Colts coach Jim Mora’s famous reaction to a question asking about his team’s playoff chances in 2001.
“Playoffs? Don’t talk about the playoffs,” Mora said, his voice cracking. “Playoffs? I just hope we can win another game.”
Well, the chances are pretty good the Mud Hens will win another game before the 2014 season ends.
They do have 28 more chances, starting with today’s contest at Indianapolis.
The team’s Governors’ Cup playoff hopes are a little more dicey, whether it is for a West Division title or for a wild card berth.
Truth be told, the Hens’ wild card chances look extremely dim. One reason is Toledo trails wild-card leader Pawtucket by 7½ games.
Another is that there are four teams the Hens would have to leapfrog to challenge the Red Sox directly for the wild card, and a fifth team is tied with Toledo.
The Hens can claim they are in the hunt for the West Division title as they sit just 3½ games first-place Columbus.
What’s more, Toledo faces the Clippers 10 more times before season’s end, meaning the Hens hold that portion of their playoff future in their own hands.
The problem for Toledo is that there are two teams, namely Indianapolis and Louisville, between the first-place Clippers and the fourth-place Hens. That is not an insurmountable problem because Toledo will play the Indians eight more times and the Bats six more times.
Columbus did receive a bit of a boost when the parent Indians made trades that added infielder Zach Walters and outfielder James Ramsey to the roster. Indianapolis got the best of things from the schedule-maker as the Indians will play 18 of their final 28 games at home; by comparison, Toledo has 15 home games left, while Louisville and Columbus have 12 each.
Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said he does not pay attention to his team’s position in the pennant race until his team reaches the .500 mark.
“The last homestand we played ourselves to a game above [.500], so at that point we were looking pretty good,” he said. “Then we lost four straight at Norfolk and split four at Durham, so that knocked us back.
“Right now we’re just trying to climb back to break-even.”
SCHLERETH GONE: The Mud Hens have placed left-hander Daniel Schlereth on the temporarily inactive list. Parrish said Schlereth has left the team to be with his wife, who is having health issues.
Schlereth struggled in his last three appearances with Toledo, giving up six hits and four walks that resulted in six runs in just two innings. His ERA with the Hens is 7.84, and he has a 7.45 ERA for the season.
FAMILIAR FACES: Former Mud Hen David Espinosa was reunited with several former Hens in late July when he was traded by the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association to Wichita.
The Mud Hens connections? One is manager Kevin Hooper, who played in Toledo from 2005-07, the same period in which Espinosa wore a Hens jersey.
Another is outfielder Brent Clevlen, a teammate of both Espinosa and Hooper here in 2007 who also played for the Hens in 2008. This season Clevlen, a mid-season league all-star, ranks among the league leaders with a .347 batting average, 11 home runs, and 56 RBIs.
The trade saw Espinosa, also a mid-season league all-star who has hit .287 with two homers, 31 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases, leave a Kansas City team that was third in its division to join a Wichita squad that leads the American Association’s South Division by 8½ games.
Espinosa beat out an infield single in his first game for the Wingnuts July 24 to give him an impressive 1,500 career hits.
Mud Hens fans also should recognize Jon Link, who pitched for the Mud Hens last season and who leads Hooper’s pitching staff this season thanks to a 10-2 record and 3.38 ERA in 16 starts.