Toledo MLN: Pitching Stepping Up

The Mud Hens have been an up-and-down offensive team for most of the 2009 season, and Toledo's pitching staff has sometimes been shaky.

Prior to Tuesday's game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, however, Toledo had won eight of its last 12 and its pitching staff had stepped up to the plate.

Mud Hens' pitchers posted a 2.31 ERA in those 12 games, lowering their team ERA to 4.04. At the beginning of June, Toledo's staff had a 4.42 ERA, which was 11th best in the International League.

Prior to Tuesday, Toledo had 11 consecutive quality starts (six-plus innings with three or less earned runs) from its starters since June 2. During that stretch, the rotation gave up 14 earned runs in 72 1/3 innings (1.74 ERA). Right-hander Brooks Brown has been a key addition to the staff, but he probably wishes he was still pitching for Erie.

Brown, who turns 24 on June 20, was 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA with Erie, but he fell to 0-6 with a 4.17 ERA with the Hens following Tuesday night's 7-3 loss at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He threw 4 1/3 innings and gave up five earned runs on seven hits, with three walks and five strikeouts. Brown threw a whopping 98 pitches, including 60 for strikes. Brown had allowed three earned runs or less in each of his five previous starts for Toledo.

The Mud Hens have scored a total of seven runs in Brown's six starts this season.

Toledo's third straight win on Sunday, a 6-1 rout of Rochester, featured six shutout innings from Scot Drucker. The Mud Hens, who have lost two in a row, had not won three in a row since beating Pawtucket three straight from May 13-15. The Hens have been shut out five times this season. Drucker had a sharp change-up against Rochester and allowed three hits and three walks while extending his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 13.

Drucker (4-2) was the beneficiary of three double plays, and he allowed just one runner past first base. Fellow Hens pitchers Clay Rapada, Chris Lambert and Fu-Te Ni have not allowed a run in 11, 10 and nine consecutive innings, respectively.

SIZEMORE CALLING: Second baseman Scott Sizemore was called up from Double-A Erie on Monday and played against host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that night.

Infielder Danny Worth was sent down to Erie. Worth appeared in 41 games with Toledo and was hitting .212 with 40 strikeouts in 151 at-bats. Sizemore, who hit .307 with nine homers and 33 RBI for Erie, batted leadoff on Monday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit a double, walked, had a sacrifice and grounded out in his Mud Hens debut, a 1-0 loss.

Sizemore went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Tuesday's 7-3 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Lucas French (4-4) took the loss despite giving up one run on seven hits in eight innings. He walked one and struck out eight, lowering his ERA to 3.24. It was his first complete game this season.

MOVIN' AROUND: Third baseman Mike Hessman has been a man on the move lately for the Mud Hens.

On June 11, Hessman pinch-hit for Don Kelly in the bottom of the fourth inning and then replaced Kelly in right field against visiting Rochester. Kelly, Toledo's top hitter (.339), was called up to Detroit earlier in the inning. It was the first time Hessman has played right field for the Mud Hens.

On Sunday, Hessman moved from third base to shortstop after shortstop Brent Dlugach was ejected from the game for arguing a call in the fourth inning against Rochester. First baseman Jeff Larish replaced Hessman at third, and designated hitter Ryan Roberson took over at first base.

DOT, DOT, DOT: Hessman is in a 2-for-32 (.063) slump over his last 10 games, with 13 strikeouts and five walks ...

Dlugach's batting average has dipped from .287 on June 5 to .270 through Tuesday. The shortstop is mired in a 6-for-37 (.162) slump over his last 10 games. He has fanned 11 times with no walks during that stretch ...

In his last 34 at-bats, catcher Dusty Ryan has 10 hits (.294) to raise his season average to .259. Ryan struck out 17 times in those 34 plate appearances ...

Right fielder Brent Clevlen is heating up, collecting 13 hits in his last 39 at-bats for a .333 average. He had two home runs, three doubles, one triple and scored three runs with six RBI during that span. Clevlen is hitting .252 on the season ...

The Mud Hens don't want second baseman Will Rhymes out of the lineup too long. On Sunday, Rhymes stepped on a sprinkler hole while chasing a pop fly in the sixth inning and left the game after batting in the seventh. He has not played since. Prior to that, Rhymes had hit .300 (12-for-40) in his last 10 games, with two doubles, two homers, five RBI and six stolen bases.

PARRISH MOVES UP: Manager Larry Parrish has now managed in 899 games with Toledo and has a 454-445 record. On Tuesday he tied Charles Strobel (899 games from 1896-1902) for third most all-time with the Mud Hens.

The two former Hens managers ahead of Parrish and Strobel are Cal Ermer (1,115 games from 1978-85) and Casey Stengel (988 from 1926-31).

Tigs Town Top Stories