THREE THINGS I THINK: 1. Who you are playing clearly matters at this point in the season. The Mud Hens won 6-of-8 against two of the weaker teams in the International League’s North Division on the road, then lost 6-of-8 to the division’s two best teams at home. That’s not a good sign as the Hens hit the road for eight more games against two of the IL’s better teams. 2. The Mud Hens continue to win with offense. In the two victories during the homestand, Toledo scored eight runs, while the pitching staff allowed 44 in eight contests (or 5.5 per game). Either the pitching is going to have to get better or the offense is going to have to find a higher gear. 3. Toledo’s 20-game deficit in the West Division is misleading. While the Hens have not played well, they are in the same division with Indianapolis, which has been the IL’s best team. That’s the reason a near-.500 team like second-place Louisville is still 13.5 games off the pace. Realistically, the Hens’ hope for a playoff berth rests on the Wild Card race, where Toledo is 10 games behind Lehigh Valley.
WHO’S HOT: IF Argenis Diaz has hit .323 in his last eight games with a home run, four RBIs and five runs scored. … Even though OF Ben Guez has batted just .257 in his last nine contests, he has three home runs and 12 RBIs in that period. … IF Danny Worth has hit .306 in his last nine games with four RBIs and three runs. … RHP Jess Todd has allowed just four hits and four walks in his last nine innings, giving up just one earned run while striking out 14 in his last five appearances. … While RHP Shawn Hill may be 1-2 in his last three starts, all three have been “quality” starts. In his last 21 innings he has allowed 17 hits and six walks while fanning 11 and giving up just seven earned runs (3.00 ERA).
WHO’S NOT: 1B Jordan Lennerton has batted just .118 in his last nine games and begins the road trip hitless in his last 18 at-bats. … IF Brandon Douglas had hit just .063 in his last five games and went 0-for-12 on the just-completed homestand. … The Hens catchers have been struggling at the plate recently as Ramon Cabrera has gone 3-for-17 (.176) in his last five games while Brad Davis is just 5-for-24 (.208) in his last six. … In his last two starts LHP Ramon Garcia has allowed 19 hits in 10.1 innings (but only one walk). That has resulted in 11 earned runs (9.58 ERA) and a pair of losses. … RHP Brayan Villarreal gave up five hits and five walks in just 2.1 innings in the just-completed homestand. While Villarreal did have a clean inning against Pawtucket June 21, the two other appearances raised his season’s ERA with Toledo from 1.80 to 3.62, and he has a 1.61 WHIP with the Hens.
THE WEEK AHEAD: The Mud Hens will start an eight-game road trip Tuesday with four games at Pawtucket, then four at Lehigh Valley. Toledo will play the Red Sox Tuesday-Friday, June 25-28, before traveling to Allentown to face the IronPigs Saturday-Tuesday, June 29-July 2. Toledo’s next home game is Wednesday, July 3, against Columbus starting at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.
SCOUTING PAWTUCKET: The Red Sox are 47-29 overall and are in first place in the IL’s North Division, 6.5 games ahead of second-place Lehigh Valley. Pawtucket, which just won 3-of-4 over the Hens at Fifth Third Field, hit .277 as a team against Toledo. The top hitters in the series include OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.357 in three games), OF Bryce Brentz (.389 with a homer run and two RBIs) and OF Jeremy Hazelbaker (.364 with two steals and five runs scored in three games). The pitching staff had a 3.75 ERA against the Hens. It’s worth noting that, while closer Anthony Carter did save a pair of games against Toledo, he also allowed five hits and three runs in 2.0 innings.
SCOUTING LEHIGH VALLEY: The IronPigs are 41-36 overall and are second in the IL’s North Division; they lead third-place Buffalo by 1.5 games in the North. Lehigh Valley is first in the Wild Card hunt, 1.5 games ahead of the Bisons and Norfolk. Lehigh Valley won 3-of-4 in Toledo last week. As a team the IronPigs hit .290 against the Hens and were led by 1B Cody Overbeck (.375 in four games), OF Darin Ruf (.400 with a home run and three RBIs in four games) and OF Jermaine Mitchell (.429 in four games). While Lehigh Valley ranks last of the league with a 4.78 team ERA, the IronPigs had a 3.60 team ERA against Toledo. Lehigh Valley’s bullpen allowed just 14 hits, six walks and two earned runs while fanning nine in 11.2 innings (1.54 ERA).
NEWS WORTH NOTING: The Mud Hens begin this week in fourth place in the International League’s West Division, 20 games behind first-place Indianapolis. Toledo now trails second-place Louisville by 6.5 games and is 4.5 games behind Columbus in third. … The Hens are 10 games behind Lehigh Valley, the leader in the Wild Card chase. … The Mud Hens do not have the worst record in the IL. Toledo is 32-47, which is better than Syracuse (29-46). The Hens trail Gwinnett (23-45) by two games and are 2.5 in back of Charlotte (34-44).
LAST WEEK’S TRANSACTIONS: June 17-LHP Ramon Cabrera assigned to the Mud Hens from Double-A Erie; C Bryan Holaday was promoted to Detroit; OF Avisail Garcia was promoted to Detroit. June 19-LHP Jose Alvarez was promoted to Detroit; OF Avisail Garcia was optioned to Toledo from Detroit; LHP Ramon Garcia was promoted to Toledo from Erie. June 20-LHP Casey Crosby was placed on the DL; LHP Blaine Hardy was promoted to Toledo from Erie; OF Avisail Garcia was promoted to Detroit. June 22-RHP Justin Souza was promoted to Toledo from Erie. June 23-LHP Kyle Lobstein was promoted to Toledo from Erie; C Alex Avila was added to the roster on a MLB rehab assignment.