Welcome to Coop Scoop coverage of the 2012 season! The Hens will play a noon game against Louisville at Fifth Third Field today, so there’s roughly a 13-hour turnaround from Monday’s big victory to today. I promise to stay awake, and to do so let’s start with lineups, notes and links …
11:00 a.m. – Hey, it may seem easy to play a noon game under normal circumstances, but it’s not as easy as it looks. What will help the Mud Hens is that they come in on an emotional high after Monday’s 11-inning, come-from-behind victory.
11:06 a.m. – A couple other things to note: both bullpens will be a shaky ground. For Louisville, a lot of relievers went Monday, and today’s scheduled starter, Todd Redmond, has been scratched from the start. So the Bats’ pitching will be thin. For the Hens, I would suspect Drew Smyly won’t be asked to cover an extensive number of innings, so the Mud Hens bullpen will swing into action as well. Lineups, here we come …
11:11 a.m. –The Mud Hens lineup for manager Phil Nevin. ... Leading off and playing CF is Justin Henry, followed by Matt Young in RF, Andy Dirks at DH, Danny Worth at SS, Danny Dorn at 1B, Jerad Head in LF, Audy Ciriaco at 3B, Cale Iorg at 2B, Brad Davis at C and LHP Drew Smyly as the starting pitcher. Louisville lineup is next ...
11:16 a.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 3B, Neftali Soto at 1B, Dioner Navarro at C, Cody Puckett in LF, Felix Perez in RF, Chris Valaika at 2B, Bill Rhinehart at DH and RHP Kanekoa Texeira as the starting pitcher.
11:23 a.m. – One other thing worth watching … with today’s major-league trading deadline, pitchers and position players may come out of the lineup – or not play – as trades go down. That may be another reason Redmond is not pitching. It will be fun to watch.
11:29 a.m. – Let’s roll through a few links, shall we? Click here to read the game story from the Hens’ come-from-behind victory Monday night, and click here to read the in-game blog from Monday's contest. Enjoy!
11:37 a.m. -- Going to sit down for a little lunch ... back momentarily. If you're looking for something to do before first pitch, click here to add your voice to answer the follow-up to Monday's Mud Hens Mindbender. Here's a hint: It wasn't that long ago. Good luck ...
11:51 a.m. -- As we get ready for baseball, Jason Beck will be happy to know that the most interesting jersey spotted at Fifth Third Field today is a Chris Shelton Tigers' jersey. Baseball is next ...
12:10 p.m. -- LHP Drew Smyly struggled with command in the first inning, walking two hitters, throwing a wild pitch and throwing just 12 of 23 pitches for strikes. But he does collect a strikeout and gets out of the inning without further damage. I was surprised at the number of breaking pitchers Smyly used right away -- normally starters throw a LOT of fastballs in the first inning. But so far, so good as the Hens come to the plate in the bottom of the first in a game that is scoreless.
12:24 p.m. -- The Mud Hens score a run in the bottom of the first, but there was the potential for much more. A walk and a hit-and-run single put the first two runners on base, and a fielder's choice by Andy Dirks put runners on first and third with one out. Danny Worth hit a grounder into the hole at shortstop that was booted by Didi Gregorius for an error that scored Justin Henry and put runners on first and second. But a pair of groundouts stranded two runners. The only good news is that Louisville starter Kanekoa Texeira threw 27 pitches in the first, which means he won't be in the game very long (he pitched Monday as well). Mud Hens 1, Louisville 0 as we head to the second.
12:33 p.m. -- For those wondering, Andy Dirks now is hitless in his last 17 at-bats with the Mud Hens. His batting average is now at .133 as he plays in his ninth game for the Mud Hens.
12:38 p.m. -- LHP Drew Smyly looks sharper in his second inning of work, collecting a pair of strikeouts and a harmless fly ball in a 1-2-3 inning. The first strikeout came on a called third strike on a fastball taken on a 3-2 pitch, and the second strikeout came on a swing-and-miss on a curveball. Smyly has thrown 38 pitches through the first two innings, 21 for strikes. Hens come to bat in the second inning leading 1-0.
12:50 p.m. -- Interesting third inning for Smyly ... He falls behind the first two hitters and gives up a pair of singles to put runners on first and second with no one out. He then strikes out Didi Gregorius and Henry Rodriguez, two of the Bats better hitters -- and got both with sharp breaking balls -- before getting a groundout to end the third. Smyly probably has seen his day come to an end as RHP Luke Putkonen begins to warm up while the Hens bat in the third. Toledo still leads Louisville 1-0.
1:05 p.m. -- Good swing by Andy Dirks in the third as he breaks his 0-for-17 with a sharp single to right. Even better swing by Danny Worth, who slams a three-run homer to left-center to give the Mud Hens a 4-0 lead. Worth is starting to heat up and now has hits in his last four games (he's 5-for-12 with a triple and a homer among those hits).
1:25 p.m. -- The at-bat by Andy Dirks won't be properly reflected by the scoresheet. Dirks smokes a line drive -- right at Bats second baseman Henry Rodriguez, who let the ball go through his glove for an error. It was well-struck, but it doesn't look very impressive because of the error. And for those of you worried about the batting average sitting in the .130s earlier: Dirks' single lifted his average to .161, although it now is at .156. The error opens the door for two more Toledo runs, and they now lead 6-0 as we head to the fifth.
1:38 p.m. -- Going to go off-line for a little bit here ... need to research big RBI games for Danny Worth, who has five RBIs in this contest (and we're only in the bottom of the fifth). Back in a little ... Toledo leads Louisville 6-1 at this point.
1:58 p.m. -- Just finished the Danny Worth research ... five RBIs in one game is a pro career high. He has had four RBIs in a game three times, twice because he hit a grand slam (Worth had a grand slam against Buffalo for the Hens on Aug. 24 of last season, and he had a slam for Double-A Erie at Binghamton April 10, 2008). His other four-RBI contest came with the SeaWolves when he went 3-for-3 with three singles in a narrow 19-2 win over Altoona on July 7, 2009. Worth's best RBI day as a Tiger came against Texas on June 6, 2011 when he had three against the Rangers. Those were the only three RBIs Worth had in 30 games with Detroit last season.
2:08 p.m. -- Oh by the way, while I was buried in the record books, Louisville made a run at getting back into this contest against the Mud Hens. Luke Putkonen gave up a one-out single but picked off Felix Perez, which proved lucky when the next four batters reached base. There was an error -- on Danny Worth, coincidentally -- but Zach Miner came on out of the bullpen and got Henry Rodriguez to pop out in foul territory to leave the bases loaded. That's right, Rodriguez was the tying run. This one isn't over, but the Mud Hens sit in a good position, holding a 6-2 lead as they bat in the sixth.
2:15 p.m. -- To answer several Tweets and e-mails, I will break down LHP Drew Smyly and his effort today after the game is over. Pitch speeds, balls-strikes -- I'll even try to match strikes to pitches, although I missed a few. That's after the game, so please be patient.
2:20 p.m. -- Silly stat of the day: Somebody wondered if that was more RBIs than Worth ever had in college, so I went to the Pepperdine web site and checked: Worth's single-game RBI high in college was four. If someone wants to check his stats at Valencia High School, I welcome the research ...
2:25 p.m. -- No more worries about Andy Dirks, eh? He came into the contest in an 0-for16 funk, and after slamming a home run to lead off the seventh he's now 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. His first at-bat was a slow hopper to first, but he has hit the ball well the last three at-bats. Dirks' second home run with the Hens gives Toledo a 7-2 lead as they continue to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
2:32 p.m. -- By the way, still no answer to the follow-up to the follow-up to Monday's Mud Hens Mindbender. I just added a hint ... click here to add your guess.
2:37 p.m. -- This game isn't over, although the Mud Hens are in command, leading 7-3 as they come to bat in the bottom of the eighth. Zach Miner gave up a leadoff home run to Chris Valaika in the eighth. Toledo's Chris Bootcheck begins to warm up as we prepare for the bottom of the eighth inning ... with the day off Wednesday, the bullpen will get a day of rest before the Rochester series starts Thursday.
2:45 p.m. -- The Mud Hens don't score in the eighth, so the lead is 7-3 as we head to the ninth. Who is the fourth batter for Louisville in the ninth? Cody Puckett, who has hit ninth-inning home runs in each of the previous three games. You heard it here first: If the first three Bats get on base, the Hens are in trouble unless they intentionally walk Puckett. ... Just kidding, I think.
2:51 p.m. -- Chris Bootcheck nails down the victory. Puckett batted with a runner on base and two outs ... and flew out to end the game. It wasn't pretty, but the Mud Hens escape the International League basement. Heading to the clubhouse ... thanks for following along!