THREE THINGS I THINK: 1. The Mud Hens are the hottest team in the International League. I don’t think that; I know that. Toledo has won six in a row, is 9-1 in its last 10 games, and is 12-3 in June. Those all are the best marks in the IL. 2. The Mud Hens have been winning with offense. Don’t misunderstand: The Hens have a team ERA of 3.53 in June, third-best in the IL. But Toledo is batting .301 as a team and has averaged 6.6 runs per game in June, and those numbers are good enough to win no matter how the pitching does. 3. Toledo’s June explosion has been fun, but there still is a lot of work to be done. Playoffs? Not yet. The first step is reaching the .500 mark, and even the 9-1 run has left the Hens 11 games under break-even. And the current rush hasn’t cut much into the Indianapolis lead in the IL West, which stands at 16 games to begin the week.
WHO’S HOT: Pretty much everybody, as witness Toledo’s .301 team batting average this month. Amongst the hottest are OF Nick Castellanos, who is hitting .361 in 15 June games with four homers, 13 RBIs and 18 runs scored. … OF Ben Guez is batting .360 in 12 June contests with three home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 runs. … 1B Jordan Lennerton has hit .316 in June with a .437 on-base percentage, one homer, four RBIs and eight runs. … LHP Matt Hoffman has a 2-0 record and 1.93 ERA this month, having allowed just two hits and two walks while fanning seven in 4.2 innings. … RHP Bruce Rondon is 1-0 with three saves in seven June appearances, striking out 14 in six innings.
WHO’S NOT: One of the few Toledo hitters who has struggled in June is C Bryan Holaday, who has hit .207 this month with four RBIs and three runs scored. … IF-OF Kevin Russo had hit .234 in 13 June games but does have three home runs, nine RBIs and nine runs scored in that span. Russo entered the month with a .172 batting average, so he has raised that mark 17 points. … While LHP Casey Crosby is 1-0 this month, he has walked 12 in 14.2 innings. He does have a respectable 3.68 ERA for the month as well as 18 strikeouts in those 14.2 innings. … Speaking of walks, the relievers sent from Detroit to Toledo to work on command still seem to have some issues: Bruce Rondon has walked five in six innings this month; Brayan Villarreal has issued seven free passes in 8.1 innings; and Al Alburquerque has walked eight in nine innings this month.
THE WEEK AHEAD: The Mud Hens will start an eight-game homestand Monday with four games against Lehigh Valley and four versus Pawtucket. Toledo will host the IronPigs Monday through Thursday, June 17-20, with all four games starting at 7 p.m. The Hens then host Pawtucket for four games Friday through Monday, June 21-24; Friday’s and Saturday’s games start at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s game is a 6 p.m. start, and the game Monday begins at noon.
SCOUTING LEHIGH VALLEY: The IronPigs are 36-33 overall and are second in the IL’s North Division; they trail Norfolk by 1.5 games in the Wild Card hunt. Lehigh Valley is 11-4 in June, trailing only the Hens for the best record this month. The IronPigs rank among the better offensive teams in the IL, thanks in part to 74 stolen bases that rank among the league leaders. 1B Cody Overbeck leads the team with 12 home runs, while 3B Cody Asche tops the team with 41 RBIs. The stolen-base leaders for Lehigh Valley are 2B Cesar Hernandez (18 steals), OF Leando Castro (13 steals) and OF Jermaine Mitchell (11 steals). The IronPigs rank near the bottom of the league with a 4.87 ERA, although additions to the pitching staff include former big leaguer Carlos Zambrano (3.60 ERA).
SCOUTING PAWTUCKET: The Red Sox are 40-28 overall and are in first place in the IL’s North Division, 4.5 games ahead of second-place Lehigh Valley. Pawtucket has some of Boston’s top hitting prospects, including SS Xander Bogaerts (.214 batting average in first four games with PawSox), OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.311 in 26 games with Pawtucket) and C Ryan Lavarnway (.311 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 37 games). The PawSox pitching staff has a 3.75 team ERA, with RHPs Allen Webster (5-1, 2.98 ERA in 10 starts) and Rubby De La Rosa (0-1, 3.29 ERA in 11 starts) leading the rotation while LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (4-0, one save, 0.70 ERA) and RHP Anthony Carter (1-0, nine saves) anchoring the bullpen.
NEWS WORTH NOTING: The Mud Hens begin this week in fourth place in the International League’s West Division, 16 games behind first-place Indianapolis. Toledo has cut the deficit between it and the other two teams in the division, though, as the Hens trail second-place Louisville by just 5.5 games and are 4.5 games behind Columbus in third. … The Hens are 10.5 games behind Norfolk, the leader in the Wild Card chase. … The Mud Hens no longer have the worst record in the IL. Toledo is 30-41, which is better than Charlotte (29-41), Syracuse (27-40) and Gwinnett (28-43) and just two games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … The Mud Hens will host “NASCAR Night” on Monday, June 17, with stock cars on St. Clair Street along with a NASCAR simulator. … It will be BGSU Night at the ballpark Tuesday, June 18, with Falcons football coach Dave Clawson throwing out the first pitch. … The ZOOperstars will be entertaining on Friday, June 21. … Sunday, June 23 will be Irish Heritage Night, with a pre-game traditional Irish dinner and plenty of Irish dancing. … The Mud Hens will host post-game fireworks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
LAST WEEK’S TRANSACTIONS: June 8-LHP Ramon Garcia assigned to the Mud Hens from Double-A Erie. June 9-Tigers select the contract of LHP Jose Alvarez from the Mud Hens; RHP Jose Ortega optioned to Toledo from Detroit; June 10-LHP Jose Alvarez optioned to Toledo from Detroit; RHP Evan Reed promoted from Mud Hens to Detroit; LHP Ramon Garcia was assigned to Erie. OF Austin Jackson was sent to the Mud Hens from Detroit on a rehab assignment; IF Danny Worth was assigned to Hi-A Lakeland from Toledo on a rehab assignment. June 14-Austin Jackson completed his rehab assignment with the Mud Hens and was recalled to Detroit; OF Avisail Garcia was optioned to Toledo. IF Danny Worth returned to Toledo from his rehab assignment with Lakeland, and C Ramon Cabrera was assigned to Erie.