The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, split a doubleheader with the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday night at Alliance Bank Stadium. Syracuse won the opener, 1-0, behind six scoreless innings from Jeff Mandel and a solo home run by Sandy Leon. In the nightcap of two seven-inning contests, however, Toledo rebounded to win 4-3.
The Mud Hens began Wednesday's doubleheader by putting a scare into Mandel and the Chiefs. Jerad Head and Don Kelly both reached base with only one out before Mandel buckled down for back-to-back strikeouts to thwart Toledo's early threat in the first inning.
Mandel continued to roll from there, retiring a total of eight batters in a row before he would face danger again in the fourth. That's when the Mud Hens loaded the bases with a single from Kelly and a sequence from Mandel that included a wild pitch, walk, and hit batter. The right-hander worked his way out of the jam, though, by striking out Danny Worth and forcing Bryan Holaday to fly out to center field.
Meanwhile, Syracuse (61-65) scored the game's lone run when catcher Sandy Leon blasted a second-inning home run toward the video board in left-center. For Leon, the homer was his second in as many games. Otherwise, Toledo starter Casey Crosby proved to be a hard-luck loser, as he allowed only three other hits and struck out four batters in six frames.
Following his shaky fourth, Mandel set Toledo's bats aside in order in both the fifth and sixth. Chiefs closer Christian Garcia took the ball for the seventh inning and converted his tenth save in ten opportunities. Garcia hasn't allowed an earned run since June 20.
The Chiefs carried the momentum from their game one victory early on in the second affair against Mud Hens starter Brooks Brown. With one out, Corey Brown knocked a double to the deepest part of the park in left-center field. After Jim Negrych walked, Mark Teahen drove Brown home with a hard-hit single into right field to give Syracuse a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Teahen scored to make it 2-0, thanks to Justin Henry committing an error on a fly ball to center off the bat of Zach Walters.
Toledo (51-75) earned a run back against Syracuse starter Tanner Roark in the top of the second. Danny Worth reached first base to lead the inning off with a bunt single. Although Roark struck out the next batter, Brad Davis, Worth stole second base. That put him in scoring position for Cale Iorg, who doubled Worth home to cut the Chiefs' lead to 2-1.
Unlike the first game, Syracuse couldn't keep Toledo off the scoreboard again in the fourth inning of game two. Singles from Davis and Henry gave the Mud Hens runners at the corners with two outs. Jerad Head followed with a bloop single to shallow center field, which drove home Davis, as well as Henry. He scored as a result of Corey Brown misplaying the hop off Head's hit in center. With that, Toledo led 3-2.
The visitors went up 4-2 in the top of the seventh courtesy of a Henry single, stolen base, and RBI single through shortstop by Don Kelly. That run was charged to Mike MacDougal, who relieved Roark after six innings.
Syracuse attempted a rally in the last of the seventh, but it proved to be too little. Eury Perez and Corey Brown both drew one-out walks. Negrych singled home Perez to bring the Chiefs within one at 4-3. However, Teahen grounded into a doubl eplay to end the game.
Al Alburquerque picked up the win out of the bullpen for Toledo with two and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball after Brown lasted only three frames. Zach Miner tossed the final inning and a third to claim the save.
The Chiefs and Mud Hens play game three of their four-game set at Alliance Bank Stadium on Thursday at 7:00. Reigning International League Pitcher of the Week Zach Duke will go for the Chiefs against Duane Below.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.