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Hot start not enough as Indians take series finale

Early homers not enough as Indians complete comeback
May 16, 2021

Toledo, Ohio – The Toledo Mud Hens fell to the Indianapolis Indians by a score of 6-5 at Victory Field Sunday evening. What looked to be offensive showcase for both squads early on quickly became a duel of the bullpens with the Hens coming up just short in the later

Toledo, Ohio – The Toledo Mud Hens fell to the Indianapolis Indians by a score of 6-5 at Victory Field Sunday evening. What looked to be offensive showcase for both squads early on quickly became a duel of the bullpens with the Hens coming up just short in the later innings.

The Mud Hens opened up the first inning with a massive firework display of power. Derek Hill set the tone, leading off the game with an absolute moonshot to left field on the first pitch. The next three batters all reached base courtesy of a walk, single, and another walk. However, just when it seemed like the Mud Hens were going to blow the game wide open, Indians Chase De Jong starter got a key strikeout and fielders choice at home plate. Now with two outs, Yariel Gonzalez stepped up to the plate focused to make the most out of his first at bat with the Hens. Gonzalez would do just that, sending a towering fly ball way over the right field wall for a grand slam home run, extending the Toledo lead, 5-0. Pitching with a lead early on, Tigers star prospect Matt Manning took the mound ready to face the Indianapolis lineup. Manning pitched a quiet first inning, getting two deep flyouts and groundout, allowing the offense to attempt to do more of the same in the second inning.

De Jong, benefiting some time in the dugout, returned to the mound after that long first inning. Seeming to do a complete one-eighty, De Jong struck out the side, retiring the Hens in order. Manning returned for the bottom of the second, giving a up a hard hit line drive that ricocheted off the wall in right to the leadoff man. Luckily, Dylan Rosa played the perfectly and delivered an absolute rocket to shortstop Cole Peterson, cutting down the runner trying to turn the single into a double. Unfortunately, the next batter wouldn’t give Rosa the chance to do it again, sending a long homerun to left, cutting down the Hens lead to 5-1. A single and walk put Manning into hot water, and the next batter sent a three run shot into left field corner. A once promising 5-0 lead now diminished to 5-4, Manning proceeded to walk the next two batters, ending his night. Locke St. John then entered the game trying to find that elusive third out. A one pitch groundout would do just that as the Hens offense would go back to bat trying to earn some more runs and extend the lead.

Continuing the bounce back performance post-first inning, De Jong pitched a scoreless third inning despite giving up a pair of singles to Renato Nunez and Cole Peterson. Continuing where he left off, Locke St. John came out to pitch the bottom of the third, pitching a very quick 1-2-3 inning.

With De Jong being pulled to start the fourth inning, likely due to an inflated pitch count, the Hens looked to take advantage of the Tribe bullpen. Derek Hill would continue his hot streak with a single lined to centerfield, but that was all the offense the Hens could muster before going to the bottom half of the inning. St. John continued to provide the Mud Hens with consistency out of the pen, pitching yet another 1-2-3 inning and racking up a pair of strikeouts in the process.

Isaac Paredes led off the fifth inning with a single to right field, extending his hitting streak to six games. Christin Stewart also reached base via a fielding error, which extended him to second and Paredes to third. The Hens would be unable to plate any runs however, as the Indians bullpen navigated the threat with three straight soft put outs. Relieving Locke St. John in the bottom of the inning was Pedro Payano. Continuing where St. John left off, Payano pitched a 1-2-3 inning with ease, claiming two strikeout victims.

The Mud Hens had some baserunners early to start the sixth inning courtesy of a Dylan Rosa single and a Derek Hill bunt single. However, these runs were left on base as the Indians bullpen once again weaved their way out of trouble. Payano returned in the bottom of the sixth for the Hens and pitched another clean inning, making sure nothing came of a leadoff walk.

Still holding to 5-4 lead and looking to expand, the Toledo lineup would fall in order in the top half of the seventh. Miguel Del Pozo would take over for the Mud Hens in the bottom of the seventh striking out the first two batters faced. A walk to the third batter would later be erased has he was caught trying to take second base on a pitch in the dirt, making it a 1-2-3 inning yet again.

Mirroring the top of the seventh, the Mud Hens fell in order once again in the eighth, maintaining a one run lead. Jason Foley came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and immediately gave up a solo home run to tie the game 5-5. Back to back singles continued the threat for Indianapolis, but two straight punch outs and a fly out ended the possibility of the Indians taking the lead.

Looking to score for the first time since the first inning and break the 5-5 tie, Victor Reyes ripped a double off the right field wall in the top of the ninth. The hit extended Reyes hit streak to six games, matching teammate Isaac Paredes. The Hens were unable to bring him around to score, however, leaving them to hope for an extra inning opportunity. Buck Farmer entered the game in the ninth, tasked with preventing a walk off for the hosting Indians. An early walk gave the Indians lineup some momentum and another walk one batter later put the potentially game winning run in scoring position. A line drive right back up the middle would prove to be the crushing blow as Indianapolis walked it off, winning the series finale by a score of 6-5.

What’s Next: The Mud Hens return home from their one week road trip Tuesday night when they take on the Columbus Clippers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.