Toledo MLN: Struggling to Reverse Trends

As the Toledo Mud Hens get another week closer to the All-Star break, they have been unable to reverse their recent misfortunes. The Mud Hens went 1-5 this past week, dropping their overall record to 13 games below .500. Even though they do not sport the worst record in the International League, their 19.5 game division deficit is the largest that any team faces.

On the right track?

While the week did not bring the success that the Mud Hens would have liked, the week wasn't a complete loss, as team home run leader Scott Thorman began to show signs of life.

Thorman started with week hitting 5-for-12 (.417) with a pair of home runs, giving him 11 for the season. However, he finished the week on a sour note, going 0-for-10 with four strikeouts the last three games.

In addition to the two home runs from Thorman, the Mud Hens received homers from Bryan Pounds (fourth), Jeff Salazar (first) and a pair from Brandon Inge, who played all six games this past week with Toledo on a rehab assignment.

On the week, Inge was 6-for-25 (.240) with two home runs, two RBI, three runs scored and a .480 slugging percent.

However, despite the increased power numbers this week, the Mud Hens were not able to string together consistent offensive success. They scored only 11 runs in the six games. The most runs they scored in a game was three, done twice, and they scored one run in three of the six games.

The Mud Hens were 8-for-30 (.266) with runners in scoring position this week. While they pounded out 15, eight and seven hits the first three games of last week – where they scored three, one and one runs, respectively – they only amassed 12 total hits in the next three games.

Manager Phil Nevin talked earlier in the season about the offense, saying that if the team could score runs, they had the pitching to win games. However, the Mud Hens have not hit this season.

They rank 8th (out of 14 teams) in the International League in batting average, at .258. While actually hitting the ball hasn't been a huge problem, there has generally been on one on base to drive in, as the team's on-base percentage (.316) is 12th in the league with their slugging percent (.388) not ranking much better at 10th.

Because of the above statistics, scoring runs has been an issue for the Mud Hens all season, as their 274 runs scored ranks them 12th in the league, despite the team's 73 games played being tied for most in the league.

Pitching holds strong

While the Mud Hens' pitchers have not been setting the league on fire with their performances this season, they have more than held their own considering the lack of offensive support and having the starting staff decimated by big league call-ups. The team received strong starts this week from Duane Below, Thad Weber and Brayan Villarreal, as well as another solid week from the bullpen.

In the team's only win of the week on June 16, Below tossed six strong innings, giving up one run on five hits. He was relieved by Brad Thomas and Ryan Perry, who combined to throw three perfect innings to finish the game.

Perry, sent down to regain is former after struggling upon return from injury, threw three perfect innings on the week. The 6-foot-4-inch righty sports a tidy 1.69 ERA in 16 Triple-A innings, with a strong 5.3-1 strikeout-walk ratio.

Perry is not the only member of the bullpen who has helped keep the Mud Hens in games. In six games this week, the Toledo bullpen threw 15 2/3 innings, allowing only two earned runs.

Matt Hoffman and Brad Thomas have been two of the pitchers leading the charge. While Hoffman's only outing of the week did not go well (picked up the loss June 17, allowing a run on three hits and a walk in an inning and a third) he sports a strong 2.12 ERA for the season.

Thomas, on a rehab assignment after going on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, has a 1.50 ERA in six innings with the Mud Hens. He pitched five innings this week, allowing one runs on four hits and two walks, striking out four. He is expected to be back with the Tigers sometime within the next few weeks.

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