Toledo reliever Melvin Mercedes walks to the dugout after allowing three runs in the fifth inning Saturday against the Louisville. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Considering the Mud Hens were forced into a “bullpen” game because of pitching call-ups by Detroit, Saturday’s contest played out about as well as Toledo could have asked.
Well, except that the Hens suffered a 3-2 loss to Louisville at Fifth Third Field.
“We came out of this game great — except we didn’t win,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “We just didn’t cash in.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view more photos
RELATED CONTENT: Mud Hens Notebook
The Mud Hens’ offensive struggles pushed their “tragic” number for elimination in the International League’s West Division playoff race to three with nine games left.
Before the game the Tigers called up left-hander Kyle Lobstein, the Mud Hens’ scheduled starter, and reliever Pat McCoy to help their pitching staff in a day-night doubleheader in Minnesota.
Emergency starter Evan Reed gave Toledo three scoreless innings, and Will Startup — who was promoted from Double-A Erie before the game — finished the game with 3 1/3 scoreless frames.
“Startup did a whale of a job,” Parrish said. “And Reed did his job too.”
The only hiccup came in the fifth inning, when Louisville broke a scoreless tie by stringing together five straight singles to score three times off Melvin Mercedes. The big hits were an RBI single by Tucker Barnhart and a two-run single by Rossmel Perez.
That was more than enough offense because the Mud Hens managed just one unearned run off Louisville starter Brett Marshall, who entered the contest with an 0-9 record and 7.49 ERA.
In the first inning, Hernan Perez tripled to center and Jordan Lennerton followed with a walk, but Marshall struck out James McCann and Mike Hessman to keep the Hens off the board.
“The pitcher already was at 20-some pitches with control problems, and we didn’t put anything on the board,” Parrish said. “That could have been huge momentum in our favor.”
The only run Toledo managed off Marshall scored because of an error. McCann led off the sixth with a double, moved to third on a Hessman groundout, and stayed there when Wade Gaynor struck out. Manny Pina then hit a grounder to shortstop, but Rey Navarro’s throw to first base was wild, allowing McCann to score.
Danny Worth made things interesting by leading off the ninth with a solo home run, his first this season. The Mud Hens, who went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners, saw the next three batters retired by the Bats’ Ryan Dennick, who claimed his third save.
NOTES: Before the game the Mud Hens added infielder Marcus Lemon and Startup to the roster. … Outfielder Andy Dirks is working out with Toledo. He has not taken batting practice since he reinjured his hamstring a week ago. … The crowd of 11,200 was the Hens 27th sellout this season.