Winning Streak Pulls 'Hens Out of Mud

Just a month ago the Toledo Mud Hens were five games below five hundred teetering on the edge of the International League West Division cellar steps. The reigning Governor's Cup Champions we're eight games back, and couldn't close out a game, until they turned to old school form to reverse their misfortune.

The Mud Hens went streaking.

The turnaround began on May 17 when the ‘Hens narrowly edged Louisville in a doubleheader by one run each in a pair of seven inning games. The two wins came on the heels of three game skid, where the ‘Hens lost all three games by one run. Two of those losses came in extra innings after blowing late game leads.

"I said it form the beginning be patient," Interim Manager Mike Rojas said.

"Be patient and everybody will start clicking as a club. We'll get 27 outs and finish the game the way that we're capable of doing." Rojas said. The patience ended up paying off at an amazing pace for the ‘Hens who turned a few close wins into an 8-1 tear, which has now become a streak of 19 wins in 25 games.

"We don't pay attention to the records, we just try to come in and work hard every day and hopefully we get the win," third basemen Mike Hessman said.

Said Rojas: "We're on a pretty good streak, we're playing well."

That's putting it lightly.

During the nearly month long streak the ‘Hens won five of six series, with one tie coming against IL North leading Buffalo. They took three of four games from division rival Louisville, who they have since passed in the standings, then took three out of four games from Charlotte and Columbus. They almost completed a four game sweep of Scranton Wilkes Barre but a 2-0 loss against Roger Clemens in a rehab start got in the way. And after tying a four game set with Buffalo, the ‘Hens took three of four from Syracuse who was fresh off their own nine game winning tour

But almost as impressive as the lists of wins, and the formidable teams they came against are the feats the team accomplished during the incredible stretch.

From May 17 through June 10, the ‘Hens:

Outscored opponents: 143-86
Held opponents to three runs or fewer: 15 times
Shutout opponents: three times
Never lost back-to-back games
Recorded a 6-1 division record

Rojas insists it's a complete team effort, but a few players have done their share to separate themselves during the ‘Hens ascendancy. Ron Chiavacci, Ryan Rayburn and Hessman have starred throughout the winning campaign.

Heading into the streak right handed starter Ron Chiavacci was 1-3. On June 10, Chiavacci came out of the pen to relieve Kenny Rogers and earn his fourth straight win. In his last four games Chiavacci has allowed only two earned runs and has an E.R.A barely over 1.00.

But it isn't just good pitching that has pulled the ‘Hens out of the mud, it's an all around effort.

"We're driving in the guys, making good defensive plays, getting good pitching from our starters and good pitching from the bullpen we're playing as a club," Rojas said.

Defensively, the ‘Hens have had a limited amount of errors while the offense has completely exploded. Since May 17, the ‘Hens have recorded 10 or more hits sixteen times and have had a slew of home runs courtesy of Mike Hessman and outfielder Ryan Rayburn. The duo caught fire amidst the winning streak and are now first and third respectively, in the IL in home runs.

But Rojas said the winning streak has as much to do with what's going on inside the clubhouse as what's going on in the field.

"The leadership of Hooper, the leadership of Hessman and Shelton has been great. The guys that have been here and played for a while they never hung their heads, Rojas said. "We've gotten it going and it's contagious."

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