TigsTown MLN: Hens' Pitching Stays Solid

Another .500 week kept the Toledo Mud Hens tied with the Louisville Bats in the International League West Division. The 3-3 record was mostly due to another strong week for Mud Hen pitching. Plus, some big roster moves coming out of West Michigan.

The Mud Hens received three quality starts from their pitchers this week, including a third straight from Virgil Vasquez. Vasquez went seven strong innings for the third start in a row, this time allowing only two earned runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five batters. Vasquez is now showing why he was called up to the Tigers last year. The consistency he is showing is a welcome sign to the Tigers organization after a rough start to the year for Vasquez.

Blaine Neal recorded a save in each of the Mud Hens three games this week, increasing his International League high total to 20. Neal has converted 20 out of 21 save opportunities this year, while only allowing 19 hits and six walks in 24 2/3 innings pitched this year for a 1.01 WHIP. HE has also struck out 28 batters this year while keeping his ERA down to a miniscule 1.46.

Fernando Rodney finished up his rehab assignment in Toledo early this week before meeting up with the Tigers in San Francisco. In his final appearance, Rodney pitched two perfect innings striking out three batters. Joel Zumaya is also finishing up his rehab assignment. In his first appearance of the week, Zumaya one perfect inning with one strike out. In his second appearance, he allowed one unearned run on two hits while striking out two batters in his lone inning. Zumaya was also expected to pitch the next day, to test his arm on back to back days before going to Detroit, but he did not make an appearance.

Chris Lambert got his first win since May 8th and improved his record to 6-3 with his third quality start in his last four appearances. Lambert has a 3.34 ERA in his last ten appearances and has struck out 52 batters in that time.

The Mud Hens scored 23 runs and hit five home runs this week. Mike Hessman had one home run this week to increase his total to 23, but lost the International League lead in homeruns Brad Eldred of Charlotte, who has 24. Hessman went 2-for-18 this week, dropping his average to .270. He drew five walks this week, but his struck out 12 times, including ten times in the last three games of the week. He may have lost his homerun lead this week, but Hessman is still the strikeout king of the International League with 97.

The Mud Hens defeated 5-2 on June 16th, thanks almost single-handedly offensively to Clete Thomas. The Mud Hens scored those five runs on four hits, with Thomas going 3-for-4 with a double and a homerun and four RBI.

Matt Joyce also had a tough week, going hitless in four games on his way to a 3-for-21 week with two doubles in one game, ten strikeouts and two walks. Joyce is still struggling a bit since being sent back to the minors after a brief stay with the Tigers.

News and Notes: To make room for Anastacio Martinez in Erie, the Tigers released pitcher Matt Righter. Righter had been struggling so far this year, compiling a 5.57 ERA between Erie and Toledo. Squeezes like this are commonplace around this time of year, as rosters get injected with additional players from the draft.

The Tigers got a bad break, literally, from the Midwest League All-Star game. Chris Carlson, who had been excelling for the Whitecaps, suffered a broken hand and in turn has been placed on the disabled list. No word yet on how long he will be out.

However, the 'Caps did announce three new additions to the roster, as expected, all three come in as recent draftees. Brett Jacobson, Alex Avila and Andrew Dirks will all join West Michigan as they get started for the second half.

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