Toledo MLN: Hens' Arms Shine

The Mud Hens relied heavily on quality pitching to go 5-1 this week, allowing just five total runs in the first four wins. The starters in those four games combined for 29 innings with one run allowed (zero earned) off 10 hits and five walks with 24 strikeouts.

"It feels good," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "One thing we've done pretty much all year is we've pitched well. We continued to pitch good this homestand. We're scoring enough. We're not blowing anybody out, but we're scoring enough.

It's been plenty with the way we've pitched."

Right-handed pitchers Enrique Gonzalez (3-4) and Max Scherzer (1-0) each earned shutouts this week. In his first start for Toledo, Scherzer allowed just one hit and one walk in eight innings with 10 strikeouts. Gonzalez started the week last Monday with a complete-game shutout and ended it yesterday with another win. He pitched 14 total innings, allowing one run, six hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts.

"We've had really good pitching all year, and the hitting should come around," second baseman Will Rhymes said. "If you look at most guys, some guys are below where they normally are hitting wise, and they are probably going to come back up. That's going to help out if we get the offense going a little bit. As long as we're pitching really well, we can get buy just scratching out a few runs."

Toledo had a .264 average for the week, scoring 23 times with four home runs and recording 20 RBI. Right fielder Jeff Frazier led the team in hits, going 8 of 24 with five RBI and four runs. First baseman Ryan Strieby recorded just one hit in each of his two games since returning from injury, but both were home runs. He also reached base once on a walk, scoring three times and recording five RBI. Carlos Guillen accounted for one of the team's home runs as he began his rehab assignment. In two games at second base, Guillen was 1-for-6 with two runs and two RBI.

"It helps a lot to have these big league guys down here," Rhymes said.

Left fielder Ryan Raburn made a bigger impact on the Hens than any other big leaguer this season.

"Adding a guy like Raburn to the lineup that's hit at the major league level added a lot to our lineup," Parrish said. "There's also a feeling when you have a guy like that around that's done it. You can sort of lean on him."

Raburn was 5-for-15 with two runs scored in four games this week before getting called back up by Detroit.

"You're expecting him to do something, and he's been getting his hits," Parrish said. "He's talked to some of the guys and reiterated stuff we've talked to them about mechanically, swing wise. Raburn has been through it here and went on to play in the big leagues. Any time you have a guy like that it helps get your point across to some of the other guys."

That point translated into a six-game winning streak, which coincidentally ended the first game after Raburn was called up. The Hens are now 25-19 and just 1.5 games back of Columbus for first place in the IL West.

"The team is rolling," outfielder Ben Guez said. "We feel good about that. That's what we're here for."

Guez struggled in all six games this week, recording just one hit in 20 at-bats with nine strikeouts. The Mud Hens have the second-most strike outs in the IL this season with 348 in 44 games.

"Some of that is guys struggling against the breaking ball and pitchers that are commanding it a little better at this level and pitching in and out," Parrish said. "We were doing a lot of guessing earlier. We were always one pitch behind. We were looking for what he just threw instead of what he's going to throw."

Toledo began to cut down this week after recording more strikeouts than hits in the previous two weeks. The team had 51 hits to 37 strike outs this week with 18 walks.

"It's more or less getting into the feel of the game," Parrish said. "We're doing a better job of that, but we're still striking out. If we were a home run hitting club, you can live with a strike out sometimes. When you're not hitting it out of the ball park, you can't be striking out at that rate."

Notes:

- Former MLB all-star pitcher Jose Lima died yesterday. He was 37. Lima pitched for the Mud Hens from 1994 to 1996. In his first season with the team in 1994, Lima pitched a no-hitter, which no Toledo player has repeated since. During an interview with the Toledo Free Press last year, long-time Mud Hens broadcaster Jim Weber said the no-hitter was the highlight of his broadcasting career. He said, ""It was during the [Major League] baseball strike. I was on SportsCenter that night calling the last out of the no hitter."

- Toledo's win yesterday snapped a six-game win streak for the Chiefs after Syracuse did the same to the Hens on Saturday.

- The Mud Hens are 20-2 this season when scoring first.

- Friday's game was cancelled due to rain.

- Relief pitcher Robbie Weinhardt has not allowed a run in his last 15 innings.


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