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Hens fall in pitchers’ duel

08/09/2014, 12:56am EDT
By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Johnson takes loss in first game with Toledo


Pitcher Jim Johnson gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning Friday night in his first appearance with the Mud Hens. Blade/ Andy Morrison


Pitcher Jim Johnson gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning Friday night in his first appearance with the Mud Hens. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

Jim Johnson had a simple goal in his first Mud Hens outing.

“I want to have fun out there,” Johnson said before Friday’s game. “It’s been a couple of [crappy] months, and I’m looking forward to facing good competition and enjoying it.”

His first appearance for Toledo continued his bad karma as he gave up the two runs that cost the Hens a 2-1 loss to Lehigh Valley at Fifth Third Field.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

Johnson came on in the eighth inning of a scoreless contest and promptly gave up a single to Cameron Rupp. The next batter, former Hen Clete Thomas, bunted back to the mound on a sacrifice attempt, but Johnson’s throw to second tailed away from Brandon Douglas for an error that put runners on first and third base.

“I just didn’t make a couple pitches when I needed too,” Johnson said. “The first pitch was right down the middle, and then I threw a ball away. That doesn’t set up for a good inning.”

Johnson got Cesar Hernandez to ground the ball to shortstop, and Hernan Perez threw Rupp out at the plate. But Freddy Galvis followed with a double into the right-center gap that scored both Thomas and Hernandez.

“It’s been awhile, so I’ll take it for what it is,” Johnson said of his first appearance since pitching for Oakland on July 23. “It’s not like I’m happy about it, but there were encouraging things. I was trying to knock the rust off, make some good pitches.”

Johnson’s struggles with the Athletics included a 7.14 ERA, including a 20.25 ERA in July. Oakland designated him for assignment July 24 and released him Aug. 1, and he signed with the Tigers as a free agent Tuesday.

Johnson’s eighth inning was enough to send Toledo to its second straight loss and push the Hens 5½ games behind first-place Columbus in the International League’s West Division.

It also wasted a fine performance by starter Kyle Ryan, who allowed just five hits and no walks in seven scoreless innings.

“He threw well,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “He’s thrown like that twice, and we haven’t scored for him.”

The problem was not getting baserunners as the Hens collected nine hits and four walks against five Lehigh Valley pitchers. But Toledo was just 1 for 14 when hitting with a runner in scoring position, and the lone hit was a two-out RBI single by Daniel Fields that scored Mike Hessman in the bottom of the eighth.

NOTES: OF Andy Dirks expected to take batting practice on Friday with the Mud Hens but did not do so because of hamstring problems. The Tigers ended his rehab assignment with Toledo for the time being. … The Mud Hens had scoreboard trouble starting in the bottom of seventh. … Friday’s crowd of 9,447 was Toledo’s 21st sellout this season.

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

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