Toledo MLN: Trying to Snap the Slump

Toledo is still battling to fight out of its losing skid, but Don Kelly has certainly been doing his part to help pull the club out of the slump.

Mud Hens center fielder Don Kelly must be getting used to playing in Toledo.

The 29-year-old Pennsylvania native hit just .237 with 32 RBI in 109 games with the Hens in 2005 and 2006, but he's clearly turned himself into one of the top hitters in the International League.

On June 1, Kelly was named the IL Batter of the Week for games played May 25-31. He was the first Toledo player to be honored this season. During that week, Kelly led the IL with 15 hits and a .556 batting average. Before going hitless on Tuesday at Durham, he had hit safely in 13 straight games - the longest current streak in the IL - tying him with first baseman Ryan Roberson for Toledo's longest hitting streak this season.

In garnering the IL honor, Kelly was second in the league with a .600 on-base percentage and fifth with a .704 slugging percentage. He batted .365, tops in the IL, for the month of May and added 15 RBI, 10 walks and nine stolen bases in 10 attempts during the month.

He currently has the league's second-best batting average (.348) behind Norfolk's Oscar Salazar (.380), a power-hitting first baseman. Kelly is also second in the IL with a .420 on-base percentage after going 0-for-4 with a walk and scoring a run in Toledo's 6-5, 11-inning loss to Durham on Tuesday.

Kelly returned to the Tigers' organization this year as a free agent. Last year he played with Triple-A Tucson and batted .275 with eight home runs and 55 RBI.

UNLUCKY 13: The Mud Hens are struggling on the road this season - and that's a huge understatement.

Tuesday's loss at Durham was Toledo's 13th straight road loss and came on the heels of a 3-5 homestand at Fifth Third Field. The Mud Hens (20-32) are 9-17 away from Fifth Third Field.

Overall they are a dismal 2-14 against IL South Division teams: 1-6 vs. Charlotte, 0-4 vs. Gwinnett, 1-3 vs. Norfolk and 0-1 vs. Durham. The team's 20-32 start this season is the worst for the Mud Hens since 2001, their last season playing at Ned Skeldon Stadium.

The Hens are in Durham through Friday and then travel to Norfolk for a four-game series before their only day off this month, on June 10. Toledo has nine home games in June and play 20 games on the road.

BACK IN THE SWING: Slugger Marcus Thames has played in nine games with Toledo on his rehab assignment while recovering from a ribcage strain, and it looks like things are starting to click with the 32-year-old designated hitter.

On May 30, following an 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance in a 4-2 loss to Charlotte, Thames was hitting just .120 with the Mud Hens. In three games since then, he has gone 7-for-13 (.538) to raise his average to .263.

Thames went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI and a walk on May 31 against Charlotte. He came back with a 4-for-5 effort against the Knights the very next day, then singled and drove in a run on Tuesday at Durham. Thames is also cutting down on his strikeouts. He has fanned 10 times in 38 at-bats with the Hens, although none have come in the last three games.

ROLLING RHYMES: Second baseman Will Rhymes (5-9, 155) may be diminutive in stature, but he's coming up big at the plate.

Rhymes has been one of the hottest hitters in the IL over the last 11 games, hitting .435 (17-for-39) with five multi-hit games. He went 3-for-4 on May 22 against Gwinnett and went 3-for-4 on May 30 against Charlotte. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, with four doubles, five runs scored, five RBI, six walks and three steals during that span.

Rhymes' recent hot streak has raised his average from .183 on May 19 to .247 through Tuesday. Rhymes is second in the IL with five triples and he has eight stolen bases in nine attempts.


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