The Louisville Bats (0-1) dropped their Opening Day matchup with the defending International League West Division champion Toledo Mud Hens (1-0) by a 10-5 score at Fifth Third Field on a 39-degree Thursday night. For Louisville, the loss sets a franchise-record five consecutive years in which the club has dropped its opening game of the season.
The contest started off well for the Bats, with right-handed starter Odrisamer Despaigne (0-0, 5.40) keeping the Mud Hens hitless through the first four innings, at one point retiring seven consecutive Toledo batters. Despaigne went 5.0 innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits, which all occurred in the home half of the fifth, walking two and striking out five on 81 pitches, 47 strikes.
Louisville’s offense got off to an early start, at one point leading in the game 4-0 and getting their leadoff hitter on base in each of the first three innings. Sherman Johnson’s bases-loaded walk in the top of the second got the scoring started, and Christian Colon’s sacrifice fly made it a 2-0 lead. The Bats drove Toledo starting pitcher and University of Louisville product Kyle Funkhouser out of the game after just 3.0 innings, giving up two runs and walking three on 77 pitches, 41 strikes. The Bats added one run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings against the Toledo bullpen before the Hens closed the gap with a three-spot off Despaigne to make it a 5-3 game.
The Mud Hens completed their comeback effort in the bottom of the seventh, scoring five runs off Louisville relievers Jackson Stephens, Cody Reed and Matt Bowman to take an 8-5 lead over the Bats. The Hens would win by a 10-5 final score.
Under new manager Jody Davis, Louisville swiped four bags on the base paths, their most as a team in a game since June 17, 2017. Colon stole two bases, with Johnson and Phillip Ervin each swiping a bag themselves. Johnson had quite a Louisville debut out of the leadoff spot, reaching base three times with a single and two walks. Catcher Juan Graterol reached base four times, with two singles and two walks.
The Bats and Mud Hens are back at it tomorrow night for the second game of a four-game series at Fifth Third Field to open the 2019 season. Right-hander Lucas Sims is set to start for Louisville, while left-hander Ryan Carpenter, who faced the Bats three times last year, is set to go for Toledo.