The Mud Hens claimed a 9-7 win over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field Sunday night. The star of the game for Toledo was OF Avisail Garcia, who hit for the cycle in the victory.
A few "cycle" notes ... Garcia's cycle is the first for a Mud Hen since Ryan Raburn turned that trick against Columbus at Fifth Third Field on May 27, 2007.
Garcia's cycle is just the second in the International League this season. The other was by Buffalo's Jim Negrych against Syracuse on April 18. If memory serves, the Bisons scored 27 runs in that game -- Negrych had seven at-bats.
It's interesting to note that this isn't Garcia's first four-hit game this season -- in fact, it's not even his first four-hit game with the Mud Hens. Garcia had four hits (in eight at-bats) in the 16-inning loss to Rochester May 7. He also had a four-hit game in his brief Lakeland rehab stint. This is Garcia's 11th career four-hit game -- and his first cycle.
It's also worth noting that Garcia now has a seven-game hit streak with Toledo. In fact, Garcia has at least one hit in all but one of his 13 games with the Hens -- and now has 10 multi-hit games. With the Hens, Garcia is batting .483 with two home runs and 10 RBIs after adding three Sunday.
- OK, may I gush about Garcia for just a second? Yes, the four-hit game was impressive, but in my opinion it wasn't the most impressive thing he did in the contest. That came in the fifth, when he collected his first steal of the season.
Why was it so impressive? Garcia got a running start on Indianapolis starter Stolmy Pimental -- and reached second base so quickly that he didn't have to slide. Just a head-shaker.
Even though he had no chance to throw Garcia out, Indians catcher Tony Sanchez threw to second anyhow, and his wild throw allowed Garcia to reach third. Indianapolis was forced to bring the infield in, and Nick Castellanos took advantage of it with a game-tying double down the third-base line.
- OK, no more gushing from me. Instead, here are a few quotes that didn't make Monday's story in The Blade.
Garcia has had a roller-coaster year, with several trips back and forth between Toledo and Detroit. He said that the up-and-down nature of this season has been hard, and I asked him if knowing that the Tigers might call him up late in the season made it easier to handle.
“I know I’m going to get another chance – maybe next year, maybe this year,” Garcia said. “Last year I started in Hi-A, was called up to Double-A, and then I played in the World Series. They make the decision, and I don’t control it. The only things I control are to play hard and to work hard.”
Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin is a big Garcia fan. The thing that has caught Nevin's attention has been Garcia's attitude during this period when he has yo-yoed between the two teams.
“He’s a special player, and not just for the things that you see,” Nevin said of Garcia. “The way he goes about his business makes him a special player in that sense, too.”
- Garcia wasn't the only Mud Hens with a big offensive night Sunday. Every starter by Mike Cervenak had at least one hit, with five other players besides Garcia collecting at least two.
Argenis Diaz had three hits, while four other Hens had two hits: Kevin Russo, Nick Castellanos, Danny Dorn and Danny Worth. Russo, by the way, now has a nine-game hitting streak.
- The Mud Hens sent nine batters to the plate in the eighth and scored five times -- and needed ALL of those runs. That's because Indianapolis scored three runs in the top of the ninth and actually had the tying runs on base before Jose Valverde closed out the win.
So, here's a scouting report from Valverde's second save as a Mud Hen. He came on in the ninth with a runner on third base, no one out, and Toledo leading 9-6. He gave up a sacrifice fly then got a groundout before Matt Hague doubled to right-center. Valverde then hit Jared Goedert with an 0-2 points before getting the final out on a popout in foul territory near first base.
Valverde threw 17 pitches, 11 of which were strikes. Of those 17 pitches, 12 were fastballs that sat at roughly 93 mph (two at 92, eight at 93, two at 94). Of the 12 fastballs, eight were strikes (three taken, one swing, one foul, three put in play -- including the double). Valverde's split-finger pitch sat at 84 mph (four at 84, one at 85). He threw five split-finger pitches, three of which were strikes (one taken, one fouled, one put in play). Valverde threw three straight to get Josh Harrison (a dangerous hitter at this level) to ground out, then threw a cement mixer to Hague. After that cement mixer, Valverde threw eight straight fastballs before throwing his last split-finger.
In short: The double came on the fastball. The hit batsman (on an 0-2 pitch, remember) came on a fastball. There were several OK split-finger pitches, but after a bad one Papa Grande abandoned it to get the final out.
- Outside of two brief bouts with command problems, Jose Ortega threw well and earned the win. Ortega came on with one out and one on in the seventh and got the last two outs. Then in the eighth he pitched around a two-out walk to retire the Indians.
Ortega threw 25 pitches, but just 14 strikes. Three of his first four pitches were outside the strike zone, but he bounced back to get a a groundout. His other brief struggle came with two outs and no one on in the eighth, when he got ahead of Tony Sanchez 0-2 before missing with four straight pitches for the walk.
Ortega's fastball sat at 95-96 mph (two at 94, four at 95, seven at 96, one at 97, one at 98). Of the 15 fastballs he threw, 10 were strikes (six fouls, four put in play -- notice there were none taken and none swung at and missed). He also got four outs with the fastball.
Ortega's slider sat at 84-85 mph (five at 84, four at 85 -- and one pitch at 88 I didn't quite understand). Of the nine sliders I'm confident in, four were strikes (one swing, one taken, one fouled, one put in play). The walk to Sanchez came when he threw sliders on three of his four pitches after getting ahead 0-2 with back-to-back fastballs.
- One final note, about the Mud Hens winning two of three games from Indianapolis -- including the last two in a row. Doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? It is: The Hens had lost nine straight games against the Indians before winning three of the last four. Also, Toledo was 0-4 at Fifth Third Field against Indy before winning the last two games.
The series win against the Indians in the Hens' first in four tries. In terms of series, Toledo has won seven, lost 13 and split six.