THREE THINGS I THINK: 1. The Hens’ chances of reaching the break-even mark remain practically impossible. The Mud Hens enter this homestand with a 46-61 mark, and they will need a 26-11 finish to end at 72-72. That 26-11 pace is a .702 winning percentage … and it would take a miracle to reach it. 2. Are the Hens the worst team in the IL? No. Officially Toledo is one-half game better than Gwinnett. But the Hens are just a half-game behind Syracuse, and it wouldn’t be a stretch for the team to catch Charlotte or Columbus – or even Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the team the Hens just played. 3. The pitching, which seemed so scrambled before the break, has started to come together. Credit the Tigers for going outside the organization for potential solutions such as Jeremy Bonderman, Jair Jurrjens and Jon Link. Even with the early struggles this month, Toledo has a 3.10 team ERA for July – fourth-best in the IL.
WHO’S HOT: The 20-inning loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was a jolt to just about everyone’s numbers. … 3B Mike Cervenak has hit .405 with a home run, five RBIs and seven runs scored in his last nine games. … IF-OF Danny Dorn has hit .325 in his last nine contests with three home runs, eight RBIs and six runs scored. … Even with his 0-for-9 night, OF Avisail Garcia has hit .314 in his last 10 games with a home run, eight RBIs and eight runs scored. … LHP Blaine Hardy has allowed just 11 hits and one walk while striking out 14 in 15 July innings. He is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA for the month. … LHP Jose Alvarez is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four July starts. He has not lost a game for the Hens since June 3 (Toledo had won his four previous starts before Thursday’s 20-inning loss). … RHP Jess Todd has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, a span of 14.2 innings. For the season he is 3-3 with a save and a 2.29 ERA.
WHO’S NOT: OF Nick Castellanos has batted just .178 in his last 10 games but does have a homer, seven RBIs and eight runs scored in that period. He begins the homestand in a 2-for-24 (.083) funk. … 1B Jordan Lennerton has hit just .194 in his last eight contests and has just one RBI and one run scored. … SS Danny Worth has batted just .216 in his last eight games and begins the homestand in a 3-for-18 (.167) tailspin. … RHP Jon Link has lost his first two starts for the Hens, but his record doesn’t indicate how he has pitched. Link has a 3.86 ERA and opponents have batted just .220 against him – Toledo scored just one run in each of his starts. … RHP Justin Souza continues to struggle in his first taste of Triple-A, giving up the winning run in the 20-inning marathon at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Souza has a 15.58 ERA in eight games with the Hens, and IL batters are hitting .350 against him.
THE WEEK AHEAD: The Mud Hens host Buffalo for four games Friday through Sunday, July 26-29. The games Friday and Saturday start at 7 p.m.; Sunday’s game is a 6 p.m. start, while Monday’s game begins at noon. Toledo then hosts Durham for four games Tuesday through Friday, July 30-Aug. 2. All four of those games begin at 7 p.m. The Hens then close this portion of the homestand with three games against Columbus Saturday through Monday, Aug. 3-5. The games Saturday and Monday start at 7 p.m., with Sunday’s game beginning at 6 p.m.
SCOUTING BUFFALO: The Bisons are 53-51 overall and are third place in the IL’s North Division, 3.5 games behind first-place Pawtucket, and just 1.5 games behind Norfolk and Rochester in the Wild Card race. The Mud Hens and Bisons met in Buffalo just after the All-Star Break, with Toledo winning three of the four games. The Herd has hit .252 against the Hens this year; leading the way has been 1B Mauro Gomez, who has hit .353 with a home run, five RBIs and six runs scored. He leads the International League with 27 home runs and is fourth with 62 RBIs. 2B Jim Negrych has batted .305 but was at .200 against Toledo. The pitching staff ranks near the bottom of the IL with a 4.40 ERA. One pitcher to watch is LHP Ricky Romero, a former All-Star with Toronto who is 2-4 with a 6.00 ERA for the Bisons.
SCOUTING DURHAM: The Bulls are 67-39 overall and are in first place in the IL’s South Division, 11.5 games ahead of second-place Norfolk. Durham has the best record in the league and is the only team with a winning percentage above .600 (.632 mark). The Bulls won three of four meetings against Toledo in a series at Durham April 23-26. Among those who hit well against the Hens in that series were IF Vince Belnome, who batted .545 with two homers and seven RBIs, and OF Wil Myers, who hit .438 but since that time has been called up to Tampa Bay. Durham leads the IL with a .279 team batting average and 548 runs scored. The Bulls pitching staff had a 3.41 ERA, second-best in the league. The leader of the staff is RHP J.D. Martin, who leads the IL with 12 victories and is fourth in ERA with a 2.82 mark. Closer Josh Lueke has 13 saves and a 0.60 ERA in 31 appearances.
NEWS WORTH NOTING: The Mud Hens enter the homestand in fourth place in the International League’s West Division, 17 games behind first-place Indianapolis. Toledo now trails second-place Louisville by seven games and is four games behind Columbus in third. … The Hens are 10 games behind Norfolk and Rochester, the leader in the Wild Card chase. … The Mud Hens currently do not have the worst record in the IL. Toledo is 46-61, which is one-half game better than Gwinnett (45-61). The Hens are a half-game behind Syracuse (45-59). … The Mud Hens have added another starters to the rotation as the Tigers signed RHP Jair Jurrjens. He will make his first start for Toledo Saturday. … For those expecting to see SS Omar Infante with the Mud Hens on a rehab assignment Friday: Infante suffered a setback at Lo-A West Michigan Thursday and is being re-evaluated Friday.
LAST WEEK’S TRANSACTIONS: July 17-RHP Derek Hankins assigned to temporary inactive list after his contract was purchased by a team in Korea; LHP Pat Misch was placed on the 7-day disabled list. July 18-RHP Brayan Villarreal was placed on the 7-day disabled list; LHP Kenny Faulk was activated from the disabled list; RHP Jose Valverde was activated from the temporary inactive list; RHP Jeremy Bonderman signed as a free agent by Detroit and assigned to Mud Hens; RHP Jon Link promoted from Erie to Toledo. July 25-RHP Jair Jurrjens signed as a free agent by Detroit and assigned to the Mud Hens, effective July 26.