Toledo MLN: Pitching is the theme

Pitching has been the recent theme for Toledo, as Luke French, Brooks Brown, and the recently returned Eddie Bonine have all been turning in fine performances. Back that up with some offensive spark provided by guys with Major League experience, and you have a recipe for success in Toledo.

If left-hander Lucas French keeps pitching like this, he won't be in a Mud Hens uniform for long.

French was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 15-21.

Toledo outfielder Don Kelly earned the IL Batter of the Week award for games played May 25-31.

French (4-4) was dominant in his last two starts, on June 15 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and June 21 at Rochester. He led the IL with 16 innings pitched in the two games and combined to strike out 18 batters.

At IL North-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, French was credited with a complete game despite losing 1-0. French allowed one run on seven hits and one walk in eight innings, and he matched his season high with eight strikeouts.

At Rochester, the Kansas native threw the second game of a doubleheader and held the Red Wings to one run on four hits with no walks. His 10 strikeouts were a season high. French again pitched eight innings but he left with the score tied at 1-1 and did not get the decision.

French, 23, has lowered his ERA to 3.01, and opponents are batting just .240 against him this season. His 64 strikeouts (in 74 2/3 innings) lead the Mud Hens' staff. French has struck out six or more batters in four of his last five starts.

MORE STRONG PITCHING: The Hens have gone 12-6 in their last 18 games behind a strong effort by the pitching staff.

Heading into Tuesday night's game against visiting Durham, Toledo's pitchers posted a 2.62 ERA in their last 17 games. Prior to June 1, the Hens were 11th in the IL with a 4.42 ERA, but that had gone down to 3.97 through Monday.

Left-handed reliever Clay Rapada had a seven-game streak of 12 2/3 scoreless innings broken on Tuesday. During that streak he had one win, two saves and 10 strikeouts. He gave up one earned run in two-thirds of an inning on Tuesday, but since April 26 he has lowered his ERA from 6.00 to 2.31.

BONINE IS BACK: Right-hander Eddie Bonine, on the temporary inactive list since June 4, made his first appearance since June 1 when he took the mound Tuesday against Durham at Fifth Third Field.

In his last start, Bonine gave up a eason-high seven earned runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings against Charlotte.

In Tuesday's 11-10, 13-inning win over Durham, the 28-year-old Georgia native went four innings and gave up four runs (all earned) on six hits, with two strikeouts and no walks. His ERA is 4.53.

DON'T PITCH TO THEM: First baseman Jeff Larish and right fielder Clete Thomas have reason to celebrate.

On June 16, Larish was struggling with a .233 batting average, but he has been on a tear over his last five games. Tuesday night, Larish went 5-for-6 with two doubles, three runs and three RBI, raising his average to .323.

On Monday, Larish went 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs and one RBI. He went hitless in five straight games, from June 12-16, but since then the 26-year-old has batted .500 (11-for-22). Thomas, 25, is hitting .297 in 33 games with Toledo this season. He went 4-for-5 with four runs and two walks on Tuesday; in his last 11 games he is hitting .405 (17-for-42) with five doubles, 13 runs and four RBI.

OUCH!: Second baseman Scott Sizemore was batting .333 in six games since joining the Mud Hens' lineup on June 15. A bad night at the plate Tuesday against Durham brought that average down dramatically.

Sizemore went 0-for-7 in Tuesday's 13-inning win over the Bulls, dropping his average 75 points, to .258. He had hit safely in five of his previous six games.

DOT, DOT, DOT: Brooks Brown (1-6) earned his first Triple-A victory in Monday's 9-4 win at Rochester. Brown was 0-6 with the Mud Hens despite having thrown four quality starts in his six games, but Toledo's offense gave him seven runs prior to scoring nine in Monday's win.

Brown pitched 5 1/3 innings on Monday and allowed four earned runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and three walks. His ERA is 4.50 ...As a team, Toledo is hitting an IL-worst .218 (151-for-693) with runners in scoring position. The Hens are 32-38 but have won four straight ... The Mud Hens lead the IL with 82 stolen bases (in 101 attempts). Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez leads the team with 23 after swiping three bases Tuesday night ... Right-hander Ryan Perry (1-0) picked up his first win for Toledo on Tuesday. The 6-4 native of Pomona, Calif., pitched two scoreless innings in the extra-inning win over Durham. He threw 26 pitches, 17 for strikes ... The Mud Hens will host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a six-game series in four days from July 24-27. Due to rained out games in Scranton on June 17-18, the teams will play doubleheaders in Toledo on July 24-25. Both doubleheaders will feature two seven-inning games.

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