Toledo MLN: Hair Raising Change

If there was any sense of boredom running through the Toledo Mud Hens clubhouse, this most recent home stand should have gotten their collective attention. The Hens continued their ten game home stand, which is the longest of the season. But after dropping the first two games against Syracuse, the Hens did something a little hair raising.

Tuesday's promotional night was Bad Hair Night, encouraging fans to come out to the game with the craziest hair style. Eddie Bonine took the challenge literally. After the Hens lost Tuesday night's game, Bonine decided to cut his hair into a mohawk. The rest of the team took notice and followed suit.

"The guys were looking for something to raise the mood in the locker room. The season grinds on them, so whatever they can do to keep focused is good," Hens skipper Larry Parrish said.

It took a night for the magic to work, but on Thursday the Hens teed off on Syracuse pitching, in route to an 18-1 blowout win. The Toledo offense hung a 10 run third inning on Syracuse, capping the rally off with back to back to back home runs courtesy of Will Rhymes, Brent Cleven, and Max St-Pierre. It was the first that has happened at Fifth Third Field since April 25, 2007.

The Hens broke six Fifth Third field offensive records which included most runs in an inning (10), most extra base hits in a game (11), and most home runs in a game (6). Three of those dingers came off the bat of Brent Cleven, who was the fourth player to do so since Toledo moved into its new ballpark in 2002.

"We can't give all the credit to the hair, but it helped us to refocus on the fundamentals, and I think that showed on during that game," Parrish said.

Musical Chairs

The Hens played back to back doubleheaders this past Friday and Saturday against Scranton. The two of the games were make ups from earlier in the season, when the games were postponed while Toledo was in Scranton. As if having double headers in consecutive days was not enough, Detroit called up Eddie Bonine, who was supposed to start game two of Friday's twin bill for Toledo, to spot start game two of their double header with the Chicago White Sox. This left Larry Parrish with some tough decisions to make regarding his pitching staff.

Parrish was forced to use Josh Rainwater to start Friday's second game and Matt Rusch to start the first game on Saturday. Rainwater and Rusch both had only been used in relief appearances. Having to use two relievers meant that Parrish had limited resources left in the bullpen. To add insult to injury, Friday night the Tigers sent Bonine back to Toledo and purchased the contract of Casey Fien. Luckily for the Hens and Parrish, Freddy Dolsi, who was optioned back to Toledo when Bonine was called up, decided to report back early to the Hens.

"Well they certainly made us scramble around. Everything is in service to the major league club, but it does make it tough on us", Parrish said.

"They took Eddie on us and then Casey Fien. We kind of got hit on both ends, but thank goodness that Dolsi came down early because he got us through that second game on Saturday. It certainly makes me work a little harder, but it comes with the territory."

Hot Home Stand

When the season began, no one was quite sure what was going to become of outfielder Jeff Frazier. Frazier, who was supposed to be starting the year with Toledo, found out two days before spring training ended that he was heading back to Erie to start the year.

"When the big league club picked up Josh Anderson from Atlanta, it meant that everybody shifted around. Unfortunately for Frazier, he was that guy," Larry Parrish said.

The late shift was difficult to swallow for Frazier.

"I just stayed positive, but it was frustrating. They called me in, but my family was supportive and just kept telling me that everything happens for a reason. But luckily it was not too long before I found myself back here," Frazier said.

But coming into this week since being called up on May 8, Jeff Frazier was hitting just .245 with 2 home runs and 19 RBI. But last week, Frazier found his groove at the plate. Frazier went 19/36, which is a .527 average, with 5 home runs and 12 RBI. He was named the International League's Batter of the Week for his efforts.

"Well Jeff is swinging the bat really well again. He had a rough stretch there in June, and it's good to see him get it going again. He has been a great asset, and he goes up to the plate looking to hit," Larry Parrish said.

Frazier's batting average jumped 41 points over the span of games and more than double his home run and RBI totals. He is now hitting .286 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI.

"I used the All-Star break to kind of clear my head, and that way I came back fresh. Ever since then in the box, I am seeing the ball well and my timing has been really good. I am just trying to put some good swings on the ball," Frazier said.

Hens News and Notes

- Third baseman Mike Hessman hit home run number 11 on Sunday. He is not just one home run shy of his 300th career minor league home run. He is also eleven shy of 200 career home runs at the Triple-A level.

- Nate Bump had another strong outing Sunday against Scranton. Bump is now 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 12 strike outs since signing with Toledo on July 4.

- Toledo continues to struggle at the plate with runner in scoring position. The Mud Hens are hitting just .223 for the year with men on base.

"I think it's just more a mental thing. It's just something we have struggled to do all year. It's something the guys recognize and it's definitely affecting some of guys. We are better at the plate with guys at first and second then we are when we got a man on third," Parrish said.


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