Toledo MLN: Homestand Doesn't Produce Big

Furbush's one-hitter highlighted the week

The Mud Hens finished their first extended homestand of the season during the last week, meeting only moderate success along the way.

The seven-game stand saw Toledo go 3-4, with the team often struggling to put forth a consistent offensive effort. The Mud Hens scored 28 runs in the seven games. However, 19 of those runs came in the three wins.

"I'm not worried about this club hitting; when we get some consistency with our hitting, we're going to score some runs," said Mud Hens' manager Phil Nevin. "If our starting pitching continues to pitch the way it has, we'll be all right."

Strong starts

Toledo received strong starts from Charlie Furbush and Duane Below during the week Last season, Furbush struggled in his nine-start stint in AAA. A series of off-season adjustments, including the implementing of a new hybrid pitch, have gotten the 25-year old lefty on the right track.

Furbush threw his best start of the young season Thursday evening, allowing only one hit in a complete game shutout, leading the Mud Hens to a 6-0 victory over the Indianapolis Indians in game one of the team's double-header.

While the game was only set for seven innings because of the doubleheader, Furbush was extremely economical, throwing only 77 pitches, while striking out nine.

"I felt pretty good, and I was throwing all of my pitches for strikes," Furbush said. "When you do that, good things are bound to happen."

After struggling to the tune of a 6.29 ERA in nine starts with the Mud Hens in nine starts last season, Furbush developed a new breaking ball in the off-season, that he said combines a curveball and a cut fastball. He used that pitch effectively Thursday, allowing only a leadoff single to Indians' catcher Jason Jaramillo in the third inning.

Of the 77 pitches Furbush threw, 56 of them went for strikes. He didn't walk a batter, and reached a three-ball count only once in the game.

"The key is to throw strikes and get ahead so you can pitch to your strengths," he said.

The following night, Below came up with a solid start of his own. He threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks, striking out six in a 7-1 win over Indianapolis. It was the first time this season that he threw a quality start, and the six strikeouts were more than the total he had amassed through his first two starts (four).

Streaking

After getting a hit in each of the seven games of the homestand, Scott Sizemore has a hit in 12 of his last 13 games, with that one game he didn't get a hit being an 0-for-1 pinch-hit appearance against Columbus.

On the homestand, Sizemore was 11-for-24 (.458) with three doubles, three runs and five RBIs. The streak has bumped his season average up to .411, good for first in the International League. His .500 on-base percent is also good for tops in the league, while his 1.054 OPS has him fourth in the league.

However, he is hitting 200 points higher against right-handed pitchers (.486) than he is against left-handed pitchers (.286). His OPS against righties is .437 points higher (1.218) than it is against lefties (.781).

Speed Bump

Getting a start on Easter Sunday, Andrew Oliver had is first rough start to the season. After going for at six innings in each of his first three starts, he lasted only 4 2/3 innings Sunday, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks, striking out three.

He allowed a two-run home run to Louisville's Kris Negron in the game, only the second home run he has allowed in four starts. Oliver's ERA rose to 4.76 after the game.

The most damage against Oliver this season has come when he gets behind in the count. In those instances, he has allowed 10 hits, 10 runs and 10 walks in 5 2/3 innings pitched, good for a 15.88 ERA and a .417 opponent batting average.

Looking Ahead

The Mud Hens are in the process of an eight game road trip, which was scheduled to begin last night in Syracuse before the game was rained out. Toledo plays four in Syracuse and four in Pawtucket, before returning home on Thursday, May 5 against Charlotte. That series will begin an eight-game homestand for the Mud Hens.

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