Welcome to Coop Scoop coverage of the 2012 season! The Hens are at Fifth Third Field for the first game of their four-game series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The game starts at 6:30 p.m., so I’ll get the LIVE blog started right now. The newest posts are at the bottom, so refresh frequently. Here we go!
5:00 p.m. – Another busy day at Fifth Third Field. Lineups in a moment, followed by a few notes and more. Ready?
5:05 p.m. -- The Mud Hens lineup for manager Phil Nevin ... Leading off and playing CF is Quintin Berry, followed by Justin Henry at 3B, Ryan Strieby at 1B, Brad Eldred at DH, Eric Patterson in LF, Audy Ciriaco at SS, Matt Young in RF, Brent Dlugach at 2B, Bryan Holaday at C and RHP Thad Weber as the starting pitcher. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup in a moment ...
5:10 p.m. -- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup of manager Dave Miley ... Leading off and playing SS is Eduardo Nunez, followed by Kevin Russo in LF, Steve Pearce at 1B, Jack Cust at DH, Brandon Laird at 3B, Colin Curtis in CF, Francisco Cervelli at C, Cole Garner in RF, Ramiro Pena at 2B and RHP Dellin Betances as the starting pitcher.
5:16 p.m. -- Not a lot in the way of "new" notes if you were following the Mud Hens on the road. Certainly no moves today. But I'm going to head to the clubhouse right now, and I'll have a report in about 15 minutes. Talk to you then!
5:39 p.m. -- OK, back from the clubhouse ... The first bit of news is regarding Argenis Diaz, who is not with the team. But that's good news, because his wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, late Monday night. Diaz will stay with his wife Tuesday and Wednesday (the birth was in Toledo) and is expected to rejoin the team Thursday.
5:46 p.m. -- The Mud Hens rotation is still a little scrambly because of the doubleheader in Gwinnett Monday. Toledo used RHP Jacob Turner and LHP Casey Crosby Monday, and obviously both will stay in the rotation. For now, here's how things should go for the Hens' rotation -- barring injuries, rainouts and call-ups, obviously: Wednesday morning will be LHP Andy Oliver, followed by LHP Adam Wilk Thursday, LHP Fu-Te Ni Friday, then Turner Saturday in the Syracuse series opener and Crosby Sunday.
5:53 p.m. -- And for those wondering, if the Mud Hens rotation holds together, Ni probably will be the one who leaves the rotation. But that's down the road, and subject to a lot of "ifs."
6:02 p.m. -- Going to sneak a quick meal. Back in a minute.
6:25 p.m. -- OK, that took a little longer than I expected. One other note ... The Mud Hens traveled from Gwinnett to Toledo this morning, which was a pretty direct flight -- Atlanta to Detroit. The Hens landed around noon, so the travel wasn't as bad as it might have been. We'll see how it affects them tonight, and we'll probably also see an effect on Wednesday when the Hens and Yankees play a game that will start at 10:30 a.m. Game on!
6:35 p.m. -- Mud Hens starter Thad Weber rolled through the first inning, retiring all three batters in the first and getting a pair of called third strikes. Weber threw just 10 pitches, eight of which were strikes. His fastball sat at 92-93 mph (one at 92, one at 93) and he seemed to throw a sinking fastball (very effectively) that sat at 90-91 mph (two at 90, one at 91). He threw three curveballs, all at 81 mph, and two change-ups (one at 87, one at 88). No score as the Hens come to bat in the bottom of the first.
6:49 p.m. -- Yankees starter Dellin Betances obviously is talented, as he set down the Hens in the first with three strikeouts. But he also gave up a single and a walk and needed 27 pitches -- only 13 of which were strikes -- to weather the inning. His fastball to the first batter sat at 92, but it warmed up and eventually hit 96. He also has a STRONG change-up that got some swings-and-misses from Toledo hitters. No score, end of the first.
7:05 p.m. -- Errors killed the Mud Hens in the second inning. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored a run in the second inning, and it didn't have to be -- twice. With runners on first and second with one out, Thad Weber got Francisco Cervelli to hit a tailor-made doubleplayer grounder that SS Audy Ciriaco allowed t roll off his glove for an error. The bases then were loaded, and with two outs Ramiro Pena hit a grounder to second base that should have been the final out of the inning. But Brent Dlugach threw high to second base, and the ball went off the glove of Ciriaco covering second base for another error. Yes, it was only one run. But here are two other problems those errors caused: first, it turned the Yankees' lineup over so that the top of the order will come to the plate in the third, and will get more chances to hit later. Second, the first error caused Weber to throw a total of 15 extra pitches, and the second error cost him a run and four extra pitches. Yankees 1, Mud Hens 0, Toledo coming to bat in the second.
7:29 p.m. -- As the Mud Hens bat in the third inning, the word on Yankees starter Dellin Betances: He sits in the mid-90s with the fastball, and he's got a wicked off-speed pitch. But he doesn't throw enough strikes to be effective ... His 60th pitch was a swing-and-miss by Brad Eldred that gave Betances 30 strikes and 30 balls. For the record, Eldred hammered the next pitch onto the bricks at the base of the left-field scoreboard for a home run, his 16th this season. Mud Hens still batting in the bottom of the third, now leading 3-1.
7:49 p.m. -- Mud Hens starter Thad Weber does his job in the fourth, slamming the door on the Yankees in the fourth inning -- the inning after Toledo had taken the lead with three runs. That can help a team's momentum, especially offensively, because the team gets right back into the dugout and gets to start hitting again. Even better that Weber did it decisively, using just 11 pitches to get the job done. The only down side at this point is that Weber is at 70 pitches, only 45 of which are strikes. Toledo comes to bat in the fourth, leading 3-1.
8:06 p.m. -- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Dellin Betances is pulled after 3.2 innings of work -- having thrown a whopping 104 pitches, only 50 of which were strikes. Betances allowed six walks in his day's effort, but allowed only three runs -- on the Brad Eldred home run. Yankees reliever Jason Bulger gets the final out of the inning, and we've finished four. Mud Hens 3, SWB 1.
8:38 p.m. -- Well, we are crawling at Fifth Third Field today ... We've just finished the fifth inning, and we've played more than two hours (2:17 as I type this). Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored a run in the top of the fifth, and the Mud Hens responded with two in the bottom of the fifth. Toledo leads 5-2 as we head to the sixth.
8:46 p.m. -- Mud Hens starter Thad Weber pitches out of a two-on, none-out jam in the sixth, getting a double play to pitch his way out of trouble. Weber's night probably is finished, since he's at 106 pitches at this point (70 strikes, for those who wish to know). Zach Miner is getting warm in the Hens' pen, so he likely will come on to pitch the seventh. Weber has allowed five hits and one walk in six innings, giving up just two runs -- one of which were earned. Weber also struck out six. Good effort by Weber. Still Mud Hens 5, SWB 2.
9:11 p.m. -- This is getting ugly ... The Hens are still batting in the bottom of the seventh inning, having scored three times to lead 8-2 as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre makes a pitching change. We haven't finished the seventh inning, and already there are SIX errors. The Yankees have made two more this inning that have helped produce three more runs. Do walks and generally slow play lead to errors? I don't have any numbers to support this, but I'd guess there's a correlation. If you throw strikes and keep your defense "ready," they will respond. If you throw a lot of pitches and mix balls with strikes, the defense could be caught unprepared.
9:20 p.m. -- Having said that, Toledo's Weber worked quickly and still saw three errors made behind him. So it's just a working theory ...
9:30 p.m. -- Mud Hens reliever Zach Miner gets in trouble in the eighth with a leadoff single and walk, but gets the next three outs to keep the score at Mud Hens 8, Yankees 2. The final out came on a sinking line drive by Colin Curtis that was caught by a diving Quintin Berry. Nice run and dive by Berry on a ball that was hooking away from him.
9:39 p.m. -- The Mud Hens do not score in the bottom of the eighth ... one inning to go. I'm going to start writing the story for Wednesday's paper, so I'm going to assume the Hens will close this one out. It's Mud Hens 8, Yankees 2 as we head to the ninth. Thanks for following along ...