Mud Hens' Oliver flirts with no-hitter

Tigers prospect loses bid on seventh-inning double in 2-1 win

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | May 5, 2012 7:59 PM ET

Not all no-hitters are meant to be.

Toledo left-hander Andy Oliver was rolling for 6 1/3 innings without allowing a hit Saturday before Columbus' Beau Mills delivered an RBI double.

The Tigers' No. 4 prospect regrouped and retired the next two batters to complete his most effective outing of the season as the Mud Hens edged the Clippers, 2-1.

Oliver (2-1) was charged with one run on one hit and three walks while striking out six in his sixth start. He needed only eight pitches -- all strikes -- to breeze through the fifth inning and retired 12 straight batters heading to the seventh.

After Matt LaPorta drew a leadoff walk, Oliver struck out former International League MVP Russ Canzler. But Mills drilled a 2-1 pitch high off the right-field fence for a double.

It marked the fifth outing in which Oliver has allowed two runs or fewer, and the lefty pitcher didn't see much variation between Saturday's start and his previous work this season.

"I don't think [my stuff] was anything different than what I have had in my last few starts," Oliver told the Toledo Blade. "I was able to make pitches in counts to keep them off-balance.

"When they put the ball in play, we had guys there and they made the plays."

Toledo manager Phil Nevin disagreed only slightly.

"That's as good as I have seen him," Nevin told the newspaper. "The stretches where he 'loses his groove' have gotten shorter and shorter the last three outings."

The 24-year-old Ohio native fell five outs short of recording the Mud Hens' first no-hitter since Jose Lima pitched one on Aug. 17, 1994.

Darin Downs pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Chris Bootcheck worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his International League-leading seventh save.

In his first game back with Toledo after a brief promotion to Detroit, Brad Eldred went 0-for-2 but drew a bases-loaded walk in the first. Eric Patterson singled in the sixth to extend his on-base streak to 26 games for the Mud Hens.

Clippers starter Corey Kluber (3-2) tied a season high with 10 strikeouts but gave up two runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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