Looking to get a streak rolling after a big win in Louisville on Sunday night, the Mud Hens returned home to take on the Gwinnett Braves in the Atlanta affiliate's first trip to Toledo this season.
Despite an eighth inning home run off of the bat of Michael Almanzar and a strong effort from the bullpen, the Mud Hens fell to the Braves by a count of 7-1.
Matt Crouse was on the mound for Toledo looking to build off of two strong starts in a row in which he allowed just two earned runs over the course of 13 innings. This outing didn't go as well, as the left-hander pitched four innings and allowed seven earned runs while striking out just two batters.
Patrick Weigel got the call for Gwinnett and had his best start of the season. The right-hander pitched seven scoreless hittings, allowing only two hits and striking out five.
Each pitcher started the game off in a groove, retiring each of the first two frames that they had faced in short order. As the top of the third rolled around however, the Braves offense exploded in a seemingly unstoppable attack.
Kyle Kubitza led off with a double and former Mud Hen Xavier Avery followed it up with a walk. Ozzie Albies doubled to put the score at 1-0, while Jace Peterson doubled to add two more. With three more singles the game stood at 5-0 after the whirlwind of an inning mercifully came to an end after two consecutive popouts.
Toledo was not able to answer in the bottom of the third, but Gwinnett added onto the lead with a two-out rally in the top of the fourth. Albies tripled and Peterson moved him in once again, while Dustin Peterson added another single to make it a 7-0 lead.
Omar Infante ripped the Mud Hens first hit of the game with a single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth, but a double play ball cancelled his efforts out.
Kyle Ryan entered in the top of the fifth and provided the reliable relief effort that was needed for Toledo, throwing two scoreless innings while only seeing three baserunners.
The Mud Hens next base runner came in the bottom of the sixth through a Bryan Holaday single. Once again however, a pair of outs behind him left him stranded on base.
After Ryan's impressive effort throughout the game's middle innings, Logan Kensing came in to follow up right after him in the top of the seventh. The right-hander hasn't allowed a run since May 24th and that streak continued in this one, as he shut down the Braves bats in short order.
Efren Navarro added the Mud Hens third baserunner of the game through a one-out walk, but was not able to come around to score and the deficit held at 7.
The strong bullpen effort following Crouse continued on in the top of the eighth with Blaine Hardy entering the game. In his second appearance since rejoining the Mud Hens from Detroit, Hardy retired the Braves 1-2-3; capped off by a strikeout of Avery to end the frame.
With Weigel out of the game, the Mud Hens were finally able to get on the board. On the first pitch delivered from reliever Mauricio Cabrera, Almanzar turned on one and put it over the fence in left field to cut the Braves lead to six.
To close out the impressive day from the bullpen, Bruce Rondon entered the game in the top of the ninth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning as well, an effort similar to that of his outing on June 5th against the Indianapolis Indians.
Entering the game in the bottom of the ninth was Gwinnett reliever David Peterson -- the third Peterson to join the game for the Braves -- and he was able to retire Toledo to shut it down at a 7-1 victory for the Braves.
The Mud Hens continue their series with the Braves on Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.