Toledo MLN: Hens Hitting Their Stride

While the Toledo Mud Hens struggled with their play the first month of the season, the team finally hit its stride during the last road trip.

The Mud Hens went 7-1 on the trip, taking all four games from Syracuse and winning three of four against Pawtucket. Including the last game of the home stand against Indianapolis, the Mud Hens stretched their win streak to a season-high seven games before losing Monday night.

Toledo reached .500 with the successful trip, sitting at 14-13 entering its upcoming eight-game home stand. However, the Mud Hens sit at seven games behind division-leading Columbus.

Pitchers excel

Part of the Mud Hens' success during the road trip was the performance of the team's pitchers.

Toledo gave up 25 runs during the eight-game trip (3.13 per game). However, the Mud Hens gave up only two runs per game in the team's seven wins on the trip, as 11 of those runs were scored in Monday's 11-2 loss to Pawtucket.

After throwing his worst start of the season on April 24 against Louisville, Andrew Oliver rebounded to throw his best start of the season Saturday against the Red Sox. He tossed a season-high seven innings, not allowing a run, while surrendering three hits and two walks while striking out three.

Toledo also received quality starts from Duane Below (seven innings, one run Thursday against Syracuse; six innings, two runs Tuesday against Pawtucket), Adam Wilk (seven innings, one run Friday against Syracuse) and Charlie Furbush, who threw his second consecutive seven inning complete-game Wednesday against Syracuse.

However, Furbush was the starter for Monday's loss against the Red Sox, where he allowed seven runs – five earned – in 1 2/3 innings.

Major league help

Victor Martinez joined Toledo for Monday's game against Pawtucket for a brief two game rehab stint.

He played Monday and Tuesday for the Mud Hens, serving as the designated hitter. He was 3-for-6 at the plate with a pair of doubles, knocking in two runs and scoring two more.

He is expected to rejoin the Tigers for tonight's game against the Yankees.

Player of the week

Mud Hens outfielder Andy Dirks was named International League player of the week for the week of April 25 – May 1, the league announced Monday.

Dirks hit in all seven games last week, hitting .433 with a home run, five RBIs and eight runs scored as well as four stolen bases to help Toledo win all seven contests.

On the season Dirks is hitting .324 with six home runs, 16 RBIs, 23 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Dirks is tied for first in the league in runs, is second stolen bases and ranks 12th in batting average.

During the team's road trip, which ended Tuesday, Dirks hit 13-for-33 (.393) with four extra-base hits, five RBI, six runs scored and four stolen bases.

Called up

After a strong first month with the Mud Hens, second baseman Scott Sizemore was recalled by the Tigers Tuesday.

Prior to the call-up, he was the only player in the International League hitting over .400, leading the league with a .408 batting average. His .495 on-base percent and 1.110 OPS was also tops in the league.

He played in 23 games before the call-up. In addition to the above numbers, he hit two home runs, seven doubles and a tripled, adding 15 RBI and 17 runs scored.

He played in the first six games of the Mud Hens' road trip, hitting 8-for-21 (.381) with four extra-base hits, six runs and six RBI.

Big-league stuff

As the Mud Hens prepare for the start their home stand, which starts Thursday and runs until May 12, the team will face a big league test to kick things off.

Former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy is expected to take the mound Thursday for the Charlotte Knights as he continues his rehab assignment for the White Sox.

Peavy has been on the disabled list since spring training with a shoulder injury. He threw 5 2/3 innings in his last rehab start.

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