On Monday night, the Buffalo Bisons let Rochester cut a six-run lead in half with a three-run eighth inning. The Red Wings got one of those three runs by way of two shoddy defensive plays by first baseman Ryan Mulhern.
Manager Torey Lovullo must have seen enough. Early Tuesday afternoon, along with fellow infielders Andy Marte and Joe Inglett, Mulhern was busy taking an early session of infield practice with his coach. Although the session was scheduled ahead of time, Mulhern may have needed the tuneup after Monday's game.
"I wanted to get him out there and just talk about the mental aspects of being a first baseman," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We didn't do anything with the fundamental part of picking up the baseball. He didn't take any ground balls, we just wanted to posture him mentally and have him regain a little bit of focus."
The practice obviously paid off for the 26-year-old Mulhern, who, despite the Bisons' 10-3 loss to the Red Wings, displayed a new level of confidence in the field en route to several clean defensive plays. Mulhern also drove in the Herd's first run of the game with an RBI single to right in the third inning.
The RBI hit broke up Rochester hurler Nick Blackburn's 44-inning scoreless streak.
"It was kind of cool, it's nice to do that, but I kind of feel bad because he pitched well," Mulhern said. "I just had a feeling. Luis [Rivas] was on second there with two outs and I was just like, 'God it's the perfect situation, he's got that streak, he's going to come right at me.' "
Mulhern, who finished the game 2 for 4, put the icing on a strong performance by starting a 3-6-3 double play to end the sixth inning, holding the Red Wings to a five-run lead.
After the game, Lovullo said it looked as though the pregame session had certainly helped his first baseman.
"He did a really good job of picking up the baseball, making his plays," Lovullo said. "I think he just felt very comfortable with some of the things we talked about today and he went out there and executed."
Herd reliever Matt Miller saw a streak of his own come to an end Tuesday night. Giving up a grand slam to Rochester designated hitter Ken Harvey in the seventh inning, Miller's streak of 12 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped. Over the course of the streak, Miller pitched 11 2/3 innings with 20 strikeouts. It was Harvey's first homer of the year coming in his third game of the season with the Red Wings.