Toledo MLN: Larish Leading Hens

Despite being outhit 92 to 73, the Mud Hens overcame their shaky pitching and escaped with a 4-4 record in their recent homestand. In eight games, Toledo hit 73 of 270 with 14 home runs and 44 runs scored.

"We're starting to swing the bat better as a team," manager Larry Parrish said. "Unfortunately that coincided with us not pitching as well as we once were. If we could match both of those up, we'd be rolling right now."

Right fielder Jeff Frazier has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 starts. He was the most potent offensive threat for Toledo, going 13-for-33 with five home runs, nine runs scored and 10 RBI. First baseman Jeff Larish was the next most effective with three home runs. He hit 9 of 24 with 10 RBI and eight walks while crediting his recent success to the change of his hairstyle to corn rows.

Catcher Robinzon Diaz has received several days off lately, but he's managed to build a seven-game hit streak. In three appearances during the homestand, he hit 5-for-12 with two runs and two RBI.

As Parrish put it, the Hens continued to see "some in-and-outs with the outfield" as the team added Wilkin Ramirez and Jon Weber. Ramirez went 6-for-27 in seven appearances with a home run and four runs scored. Parrish said Weber will mostly receive time at DH. He made three appearances this week, hitting 4 of 11 with one walk and three strike outs.

The pitching staff continued to be depleted by injuries and call-ups. The latest came immediately after Sunday's game when closer Jay Sborz was called into the manager's office and informed he was being called up by the Tigers.

"I just want to keep throwing strikes, and everything else will take care of itself if I do," Sborz said.

Parrish said the team's closer will now vary depending on the situation. Left-hander Daniel Schlereth will likely get the call against left-handed batters while right-hander Casey Fien will throw against right-handers.

"It's good for Sborz," Parrish said. "He's done a good job for us. That's our job sometimes to get guys ready to go help the big league club. We've sent some guys up this year. Hopefully Jay will go up and help them."

The depleted staff has taken its toll as the team allowed 41 runs off 77 hits with 23 walks and 57 strikeouts.

"We did not pitch very well here," Parrish said. "We had our struggles during the homestand." The team should receive quality depth with the addition of right-hander Rick Porcello as the Tigers sent him down this week.

"I'm sure he should help us, but he probably is not real happy about it," Parrish said. "For a young guy like him, I think it's the right thing. He can come down here and get his confidence back."

One player building confidence is right-hander Alfredo Figaro. He won both starts during the homestand, throwing 13 1/3 innings with four earned runs allowed off 16 hits with 15 strikeouts and no walks.

"He's mixing it up with good location, not trying to overthrow the fastball and staying under control," Parrish said. "When I say under control with him I mean his body, not trying to over-do it. Throwing 94 is fine and when you get a chance to kill the guy, then turn one loose at 97 and ride it up in the zone. He's not trying to throw 97 the whole time with no command."

At 40-31, the Hens have pulled within one game of Columbus for the lead in the West division. They are also tied with Scranton/WB in the wild card standings.

Notes:

Second baseman Scott Sizemore received the day off on Sunday after starting the previous 31 games. He went 8-for-27 in the homestand with a home run and seven runs scored.

Larish leads the IL with 23 doubles and is second with 77 total hits. He was announced Monday as the IL player of the week.

Toledo recorded sell-out crowds in all four games against Norfolk for 12 total sellouts this season.


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