TigsTown MLN: Toledo's Last Hurrah

Though the Mud Hens are out of the playoff picture, they're giving fans their money's worth.

Rewinding back August 26, in Mike Hessman and Blaine Neal's return from the Olympics, on which they received the bronze medal for, things looked good heading into sixth inning. With a string of hits and smart base running by Richmond, the ‘Hens found themselves back by three runs. By the bottom of the ninth, the ‘Hens were one run down with two outs and Timo Perez on second. Mud Hens' star Hessman stepped up to the plate trying to play the hero role. With a 1-1 count on the Olympian, Perez was picked off by pitcher Jorge Julio in an attempt to gather a good lead off the bag. It has just been that kind of season for Toledo.

Rewinding back, Dontrelle Willis couldn't replicate his last performances August 25. With one run on two hits, manager Larry Parrish replaced the southpaw with Matt Rusch in the top of second. Rusch went five innings, giving up one hit while fanning four to pick up his third win of the season in the ‘Hens' 3-2 win over Richmond.

August 24 and 23 were humiliating losses for the ‘Hens. In both games they gave up six runs a piece, and only scored one run in that two-day span. Though their starters and bullpen was a joke, their hitting didn't contribute at all either— leaving Toledo embarrassed by last place Richmond.

The only bright note was Sunday's game, where ‘Fast' Freddy Guzman stole his way into Toledo's record books. With two stolen bases in the August 24 game, Guzman set the Mud Hens Modern-Era single season stolen base record with 54. He has since then stole one more to further his record at 55. Jeremiah McDonough set the All-Time stolen base record in 1899 with 80. Guzman has accumulated 70 total bases swiped this season in Detroit's farm system— 15 with the Erie SeaWolves.

August 22 was a bit more pleasing for Toledo fans. The ‘Hens were first to hit the board, but by the second inning Norfolk was matching them run-for-run each inning. Then in the top of the eighth inning, Brent Clevlen smacked a line drive to centerfield to bring in Freddy Guzman for the go-ahead run to cap off the ‘Hens' 6-5 win over the Tides.

Fast-forwarding to yesterday's game, August 27, Hessman came through for the ‘Hens in a big way. In the bottom of the fourth, the big third baseman knocked a sharp line drive home run to left field off Columbus' Tyler Clippard for his 33rd shot of the season. Perez was the hero of the night though, going 3-5 with a double and home run, while knocking in three RBI.

Though the playoffs are out of reach, the Mud Hens are approaching and breaking some single-season team records and milestones. They currently have the most stolen bases (150) this season since 1994 (145). They are also approaching most strikeouts in a season with 1,160. The all-time record is 1,194, which was set in 2006. Toledo's pitching staff has had quite the arms this season. They struck out 1,018 batters this year—the franchise record is 1,036 set in 2005.

A couple injured players have been placed on the disabled list recently. Infielder Max Leon was placed on the list after suffering a shoulder injury in Tuesday night's game. To replace his spot, infielder Wil Rhymes was promoted from Double-A Erie. Infielder Derek Wathan was placed on the disabled list with a sore lower back, but isn't expected to be out long.

Two-time All-Star Freddy Guzman will make his first start tonight for the Mud Hens against the Columbus Clippers. The Tigers' organization is hoping Guzman will make an impact in Toledo in attempt to better their pitching staff for the 2009 season. Toledo is 302-380 (.443) in the Modern-Era since 1965 versus Columbus. At Fifth Third Field they are 29-23 (.558) against them.

With the season making its way to an end, the Mud Hens have had an impressive season— something they shouldn't lower their heads aBetween playing with Detroit frequently, being represented in the Summer Olympics, setting records and ticket sell-outs, there should be no shame in Mudville in 2008.


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