TigsTown MLN: Mud Hens Offense Wakes Up

The Toledo Mud Hens kept a one game lead in their division with a 3-4 record this past week. In the past weeks, the Detroit Tigers had called up many of the Hens young sluggers up to the show for their injured players. Thanks to a return of many of their sluggers from the Tigers, the offense awoke this week.

The Mud Hens averaged six runs per game this week, which should have helped provide a better record for the past week. Unfortunately in a few of the games this week, the pitching and hitting did not come together at the right time. Still, if the offense continues to go back to how they were playing pre-call-ups and the pitching continues to be as steady as it had been the past couple of weeks, then another strong play-off push should be in store for Mud Hen fans.

Jeff Larish was one of those players that returned to the Mud Hens after having an impressive stay with the Tigers. Larish, the usual first baseman for the Mud Hens, has started to also see time at third base on the suggestion of Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Larish has been a bit inconsistent at the plate, going hitless in four games this week, including three in a row, while collecting eight RBI in the other three games. Larish hit a three-run home run this week, to give him 17 with the Mud Hens.

Mike Hessman hit a pair of home runs this to give him 26 on the year. Hessman has hit .278 with eight RBI and six extra base hits (three home runs) in his past ten games. He has also drawn eight walks during that time, which shows that he has worked hard at being more patient at the plate and taking what the pitchers are giving to him. The disparity of his numbers between right-handed and left-handed pitchers is staggering. HE has about three times more at-bats against righties and is hitting .286 with 22 home runs off of them compared to .194 with four home runs. As a right-handed hitter, you would expect the opposite to be true for Hessman, but if he can improve against lefties, he will be even a bigger asset to the Mud Hens.

Virgil Vasquez picked up a loss this week. Vasquez pitched 7 1/3 innings, the fifth time he has gone at least seven innings in his last six outings, giving up four earned runs on four hits and an uncharacteristic four walks while striking out six batters. In his last six outings, Vasquez has gone 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA and four quality starts.

Chris Lambert made two starts this past week. In his first start, Lambert pitched six solid innings, giving up no runs while allowing only five hits and one walk and sitting eight batters down via the strike out. His second start was a little more troublesome. Lambert lasted only 5 1/3 innings and gave up ten hits and three walks resulting in five earned runs. If Lambert can find the consistency that Vasquez has found lately, then the Mud Hens could have two aces in their rotation.

In the bullpen, Preston Larrison continues his current streak of solid pitching. In his last five outings, he has pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up only two hits and two walks. Blaine Neal blew his second save of the season giving up three runs (two earned) in a loss to Louisville.

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