Welcome to Coop Scoop coverage of the 2012 season! The Hens will play the third game of their four-game series against Louisville at Fifth Third Field tonight, with first pitch at 7 p.m. I do have a few notes and quotes, so let’s get rolling!
6:00 p.m. – Before I hit you with the lineups, a shout-out to the Mud Hens for an “old school” batting practice. I’ve heard some Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple … started flashing back a few years. OK, more than a few years. Before I start waxing nostalgically, I should do lineups, right?
6:05 p.m. –The Mud Hens lineup for manager Phil Nevin. ... Leading off and playing 3B is Justin Henry, followed by Danny Worth at 2B, Andy Dirks in RF, John Lindsey at DH, Danny Dorn at 1B, Jerad Head in LF, Matt Young in CF, Bryan Holaday at C, Argenis Diaz at SS and RHP Brooks Brown as the starting pitcher. Louisville lineup is next ...
6:10 p.m. -- The Louisville lineup of manager David Bell ... Leading off and playing CF is Denis Phipps, followed by Didi Gregorius at SS, Henry Rodriguez at 2B, Neftali Soto at 1B, Mike Costanzo at 3B, Cody Puckett in LF, Felix Perez in RF, Corky Miller at C, Willie Harris at DH and RHP Brett Tomko as the starting pitcher.
6:19 p.m. -- OK, not many notes I haven't covered already, so let's go to the links first, shall we? Click here to look at an analysis of Casey Crosby's start versus Louisville Sunday. Click here to read a post-game look at several players, namely LHP Andy Oliver, LHP Drew Smyly and OF Andy Dirks. And click here to read the in-game blog from Sunday's contest.
6:28 p.m. -- Going to be on television shortly, so here are the links from Monday's stuff in The Blade. Click here to read the game story from Sunday's contest, and click here to view the photo gallery from Saturday's game, courtesy of Amy Voigt of The Blade. Enjoy!
6:49 p.m. -- I did ask Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin about how he thinks OF Andy Dirks has performed in his rehab stint so far, and he said, "Because of his injury he missed nearly two months, and that's like an off-season. His time here becomes a matter of getting his timing back, and that can be an awkward feeling. He's going to need to get at-bats. The main thing is that he is healthy, and he can just let it fly."
6:57 p.m. -- We're a few minutes away from first pitch, so a little trivia from my Twitter feed ... someone wished Louisville's Brett Tomko and Toledo's Jerad Head good luck, then said "Mocs" for Tomko and "Ichabods" for Head. What was he referring to? Answer is a little bit ...
7:14 p.m. -- We have no score after the first inning. Toledo's Brooks Brown retired the Bats without incident in the first, throwing strikes with seven of his 11 pitches, but Louisville's Brett Tomko struck out two of the batters he faced -- including Andy Dirks. Tomko threw 16 pitches, 10 for strikes. Dirks was fooled with a couple of his swings ... adding credence to Nevin's claim that Dirks needs reps to sharpen his batting eye.
7:27 p.m. -- The Mud Hens gave up a pair of runs in the second inning as the Bats nearly hit for the cycle, missing only the home run. But the moral dilemma is that the "ice cream strikeout player" is Corky Miller. Miller is the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only player to have played at least one game in Fifth Third Field in all 11 seasons the ballpark has been open? Of course, Miller struck out to give some fans some ice cream. Mud Hens trail 2-0 as they come to bat in the second.
7:39 p.m. -- The Mud Hens bounce back with three runs in the bottom of the second ... and believe it or not, it could have been more. John Lindsey led off with a home run, and Danny Dorn doubled before Jerad Head singled Dorn to third and Matt Young walked to load the bases. Bryan Holaday hit a tough slow roller down the third-base line, and there was only one play: at the plate. And Louisville's Mike Costanzo made a terrific throw to the plate to get the out. Argenis Diaz then doubled into the right-field corner to score the first two runners, but Holaday was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play. It was an extremely close play at the plate, but there was one problem: Holaday never touched home plate, or at least he didn't until after he was tagged. Mud Hens 3, Louisville 2 as we head to the third.
7:59 p.m. -- Mud Hens starter Brooks Brown cruises until there are two outs in the fourth, when he promptly walks the seventh and eighth hitters to give Louisville an opportunity. But Brooks gets Willie Harris to pop out for the final out of the inning and preserve Toledo's 3-2 lead.
8:18 p.m. -- The Mud Hens tack on a pair of runs in the fourth off Tomko, thanks to a clutch piece of two-out hitting by Justin Henry. With the bases loaded and two outs Henry lined a single to right field to bring home two runs. Mud Hens have broken out of their hitting doldrums so far tonight, collecting seven hits through four innings to lead 5-2 as we head to the fifth.
8:32 p.m. -- It will go into the books as a 1-3 putout, but John Lindsey hit a ball that deserves a little more description. Lindsey cued a ball off the end of his bat that landed foul down the first-base line ... but it had so much spin on it that it rolled back into fair territory! Tomko covered it and got the out. We've completed five innings and the Mud Hens still lead 5-2.
8:37 p.m. -- Racing With the Stars update ... Jim Flealand left a little early at the start of the race, but Jamie Farmadillo quickly made up the distance before the trio passed second base. Farmadillo never let up and claimed a solid victory. There are no times kept for the races, but I'd have to guess that Farmadillo's time for this race would have been one of the fastest this season. Back to baseball ...
8:46 p.m. -- Louisville has one run in here in the sixth, bases loaded as Matt Hoffman comes on in relief of Brooks Brown. As a quick aside, a further word about Corky Miller as the ice cream strikeout batter: When Miller was announced as the strikeout batter before the game, tipping his cap to the fans. Gotta love that. Back to baseball ...
8:54 p.m. -- Louisville manages to tie the game with three runs in the top of the sixth. Mud Hens are able to dodge a bullet when Jerad Head threw a baserunner out at home plate on a close play. But the damage already has been done as Toledo comes to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning of a tie game.
9:06 p.m. -- And one batter into the seventh, Louisville takes the lead. Mud Hens reliever Matt Hoffman gives up a leadoff home run to Henry Rodriguez and Toledo finds themselves behind 6-5 after leading earlier by a 5-2 score.
9:20 p.m. -- For those of you who follow Fifth Third Field attendance, tonight's crowd of 10,700 is the largest Monday crowd in the ballpark's 11-year history.
9:36 p.m. -- It was a little sloppy, but LHP Andy Oliver did cover the eighth in scoreless fashion. He walked the first batter he faced, Corky Miller, on five pitches, and a sacrifice moved Miller into scoring position. There was a single by Denis Phipps that moved Miller to third, but Miller wasn't fast enough to score and Oliver got the final two outs he needed to keep the score Louisville 6, Toledo 5 as the Mud Hens come to the plate in the eighth.
9:41 p.m. -- And it only took one pitch in the eighth for the Mud Hens to retie the game. Jerad Head led off the inning with a no-doubt home run to left off Louisville reliever Nick Christiani.
9:55 p.m. -- The Mud Hens get two more runners on base in the eighth but fail to score. Andy Oliver comes back to start the ninth in a 6-6 tie. He'll be working with the Hens' new catcher, Brad Davis, who is making his home debut for Toledo. Hang on to your Mud Hens hats, as Jim Weber likes to say ...
10:01 p.m. -- OK, so who is this Cody Puckett? For the third night in a row Puckett hits a home run that seems to doom the Mud Hens. He hit a grand slam to win Saturday's game for the Bats, then hit a two-run home run that provided breathing room for the Bats in a game they eventually won 3-1 Sunday. Tonight he took a ball from Oliver, then slammed the next pitch off the Fifth Third Field shield atop the left-field scoreboard for his third home run in as many days. Louisville leads 7-6 as Toledo comes to bat in the bottom of the ninth. Unbelievable.
10:17 p.m. -- Mud Hens find a way to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. John Lindsey drew a one-out walk, pinch-runner Cale Iorg took second on a single by Danny Dorn, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Jordan Smith before Iorg scored on a groundout by Jerad Head. Head's grounder forced Louisville shortstop Didi Gregorius to make a diving stop to keep the ball from going into the outfield for a game-winning hit. We move to the tenth with the score tied 7-7.
10:45 p.m. -- Both teams score one run in the tenth ... and I've got a deadline approaching. So I've got to do some writing. I'll be back around 11:15 p.m. Thanks for your patience.
11:30 p.m. -- OK, this was one crazy finish. Mud Hens beat Louisville 10-9 in 11 innings, and I'll recap a few highlights here in just a moment.
11:36 p.m. --Let's start with a few crazy notes, OK? Each team scored at least one run in each of the last seven half-innings of the game, starting with the bottom of the eighth. That resulted in FIVE blown saves in the game, four by Louisville relievers. It may not be something I'd remember easily, but I sure don't remember a game with five blown saves.
11:45 p.m. -- Let's work backwards with some highlights next, starting with the two runs the Hens scored in the bottom of the 11th. The rally began with one out when Jerad Head worked Kanekoa Texeira for a seven-pitch walk, and Matt Young greeted Louisville reliever Donnie Joseph by fouling off a pitch, then taking four straight balls for a walk. Hens catcher Brad Davis hit a slow roller to third base and hustled to first in time to make sure the Bats couldn't turn a double play, with Head moving to third. Then Argenis Diaz slammed the first pitch he saw from Joseph into the left-center gap, past the outfielders to the wall, for a double that allowed Davis, a catcher, to score from first base. I thought the outfielders were too shallow, and based on the result they obviously were. But it also was a well-struck ball, so the Hens manage to avoid their sixth consecutive loss.
11:53 p.m. -- Did I also mention the Mud Hens are now tied with Louisville for the worst record in the International League? They do not hold that distinction alone, and the winner of Tuesday's noon contest will force the loser into sole possession of the worst record.
11:59 p.m. -- Back to the game ... It looked as if the Mud Hens had frittered away a potential victory when they gave up a run in the top of the 11th. What made the rally especially painful is that it came with two outs and no one on base. Felix Perez slammed a pitch from Luis Marte high off the wall in right -- Andy Dirks made a nice effort on the catch but fell just short -- and reached second base, and Dioner Navarro followed by blooping a single to left that scored Perez without a throw.
12:07 a.m. -- Both teams gave up unearned runs in the tenth inning. First, Louisville's run, which was scored off Andy Oliver and Marte. Corky Miller led off with a single and replaced by pinch-runner Chad Reineke. Oliver got the next batter to pop a bunt back to him for one out, and Marte came on to get Denis Phipps to hit a grounder to third ... that went under the glove of Justin Henry for an error. It was a slow roller that may not have been turned into a double play, but the lead runner should have been retired at second. Instead of a runner on first base with two outs, Marte faced runners on second and third with one out. The Hens intentionally walked Didi Gregorius, but Henry Rodriguez lofted a fly to deep right that scored Reineke easily. The flyball should have been the third out of the inning. It's worth noting that Matt Young in centerfield make a terrific diving catch on a sinking liner by the next batter, Neftali Soto, that would have scored at least one more run.
12:16 p.m. -- But the Mud Hens benefited from a Louisville error to retie the game in the bottom of the tenth. Argenis Diaz hit a grounder to third base that Mike Costanzo booted for an error, putting Diaz on first base. Diaz moved to second on a sacrifice by Justin Henry, and Danny Worth singled Diaz to third. Andy Dirks hit a slow roller to second baseman Henry Rodriguez, who got the force at second base on a play where there was no throw to first -- and Diaz scored.
12:22 p.m. -- Something to consider for later today -- since it's Tuesday morning -- these two teams come back here for a noon start. And both teams used a bunch of relievers, with Louisville using seven relievers (J.J. Hoover is the only reliever the Bats didn't use, and he went 1.2 innings Sunday) and Toledo using three relievers. I'd say the Mud Hens are in better shape, but it's worth noting that their starter, Drew Smyly, has not throw a pitch since before the All-Star Break, so he won't be expected to cover big innings.
12:30 a.m. -- Shutting down the press box, knowing that I'll be back in less than 10 hours. Hope there are a number of high-caffeine drinks available for Tuesday's contest. I'll talk to everyone then -- thanks for following along!