Mud Hens put on power display
Clevlen launches three of six Toledo homers in rout
Fifth Third Field was already scheduled to play host to a high-school home run derby after Thursday's game between the Toledo Mud Hens and Syracuse Chiefs.
Apparently, Brent Clevlen and the Mud Hens were eager to stage one of their own.
Clevlen blasted three solo shots, including one during a 10-run third inning that featured back-to-back-to-back blasts, as Toledo set several Fifth Third Field marks in an 18-1 pounding of the Chiefs.
With the Mud Hens guarding a 2-0 lead entering the bottom of the third, the 7,271 fans in attendance had no idea that they were about to witness one of the most impressive offensive performances in franchise history.
After five singles and an intentional walk chased Syracuse starter Marco Estrada before he recorded an out in the third, Toledo began its longball assault against Major League veteran Dave Williams.
Will Rhymes connected for a three-run shot over the right-field wall, Clevlen followed with a blast to right-center and Max St. Pierre cleared the fence in left to give the Mud Hens back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time since Chris Shelton, Mike Hessman and Ryan Raburn accomplished the feat on April 25, 2007 at Charlotte.
"We just had good at-bats and sat on the ball pretty good," St. Pierre said. "It's pretty hard to get a base hit, but when you're seeing the ball good, it's easier."
Williams proceeded to throw his next pitch up and in at Scott Sizemore, prompting his ejection and forcing Syracuse manager Tim Foli to use a trio of position players. Shortstop Marcos Yepez took one of the team, giving up six runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 frames.
"It was a little bit easier once they threw [Williams] out," St. Pierre said. "They didn't have anybody else in the bullpen. They threw position players. We just kept hitting like it was a 0-0 game."
The 10-run inning was the largest in the history of Fifth Third Field, but the Mud Hens were just getting started.
Clevlen led off the fourth with his ninth homer of the season before Jeff Frazier, who finished 4-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs, added a three-run blast in the seventh.
Not to be outdone, Clevlen went deep two batters later to become just the fourth Mud Hen to homer three times in a game, joining Hessman, Jack Hannahan and Dane Sardinha on that exclusive list.
"[Clevlen] put a good swing on the ball every at-bat he had," St. Pierre said. "He stayed with the same approach and had a great game."
Toledo and Syracuse also combined to tie a Fifth Third Field record with 32 hits, and the Mud Hens' 11 extra-base hits were their most ever in the ballpark, which opened in 2002.
All six homers were hit by the bottom four batters in the Toledo lineup, but there was also plenty of production at the top.
Sizemore went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs scored and fellow Major League veteran Don Kelly added four hits, including two doubles, and an RBI.
Former American League All-Star Carlos Guillen and Brent Dlugach went a combined 6-for-10 with two RBIs for Toledo, which scored its most runs since opening the season with a 16-5 victory at Indianapolis on April 9.
The Mud Hens did fall just short of their team-record seven-homer performance at Columbus on May 18, 2008. The last time Toledo had hit six homers at home was Aug. 19, 2007 against Columbus.
Mud Hens starter Chris Lambert (5-7) was the beneficiary of all the offensive support as he cruised to his second win in three starts after yielding a run on seven hits with six strikeouts over a season-high eight innings.
The last time there were back-to-back-to-back homers in the Minor Leagues was May 3, courtesy of the Fresno Grizzlies' Kevin Frandsen, Adam Witter and Jesus Guzman in the Pacific Coast League.
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.