Mud Hens rightfielder Tyler Collins drives in two runs during the second inning against the Indianapolis Indians on Thursday at Fifth Third Field. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
For the second night in a row an offensive eruption made things easy for the Mud Hens.
The Hens pounded out 16 hits and scored at least one run in five of eight innings they batted in knocking off Indianapolis 10-6 at Fifth Third Field on Thursday.
Thursday’s win, combined with the 11-run outburst Wednesday, marked the first time Toledo scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games since July of last season.
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“I don’t mind waving my left arm [to send runners home],” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said with a smile.
Good thing, because the Hens got rolling quickly thanks to a three-run second-inning off Indianapolis starter Adrian Sampson.
Daniel Fields doubled and Wade Gaynor walked to start the rally. Danny Worth sacrificed both runners up a base, and Tyler Collins ripped a two-run single before a Hernan Perez double scored Collins.
“You get those runs early, and it’s the ‘comfortable’ factor,” said Collins, who finished with two singles and a double. “Your pitcher knows he has a few runs, so he can attack hitters and not worry about a hit here and there like you would in a 0-0 game.”
In the third Toledo took advantage of an Indianapolis error to score a run. In the fourth Indianapolis scored twice, but the Hens responded with two more runs thanks to a sacrifice fly by Manny Pina and a two-out RBI double by Gaynor.
“We faced a kid [in Sampson] who looked like he was used to pitching with a fastball and not a lot of breaking stuff,” Parrish said. “We got ready for the fastball and hit it well.”
By the fifth the Hens were rolling, as a two-run homer by Hessman, his 23rd of the season, keyed another three-run rally. Toledo’s final run scored on a sacrifice fly by James McCann in the seventh.
“You see one guy [hit], then the next guy does it, and suddenly the wheels fall off for the other team,” Collins said. “It’s good to see everyone relaxed and comfortable at the plate.”
Perez finished with four hits, while Gaynor joined Collins with three hits and Hessman had a home run and three walks in five plate appearances.
The outburst made a winner of Toledo starter Kyle Ryan, who pitched well in his first two starts for the Hens after his promotion from Double-A Erie. But he earned two no-decisions after the Hens scored just four in those starts.
“It’s the worst of the three games he’s thrown for us, but it’s his first win,” Parrish said of Ryan.
Parrish said Ryan’s success has come from his deception, which starts with a cross-fire delivery.
“He’s got some funkiness that makes it hard to track the ball, and then he cuts and sinks the ball,” Parrish said. “A batter looks inside, and he shoots the ball away. Then they look outside, and he cuts it in on their hands.
“And when they haven’t seen it, he throws a change-up or a breaking ball at the right time.”
Ryan retired the first nine batters he faced before allowing three hits and two runs in the fourth, then was tagged with three runs in the sixth thanks in large part to two Toledo errors.
While the win lifted the Mud Hens into a three-way tie for second place in the International League’s West Division, Toledo remains six games behind first-place Columbus. The Hens host the Clippers today in the first of three home games, followed by three straight in Columbus.
“It’s day-to-day still,” Collins said of Toledo’s playoff chances. “I know there are only a few weeks left, but there’s still a chance.
NOTE: The Mud Hens announced they would begin selling playoff tickets on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15 for club seats and $12 for field level seats and will be available at the Mud Hens ticket office, by phone at (419) 725-4367 or online at www.mudhens.com.