Toledo MLN: Hens Stay Hot

Ni has stepped up for the Hens

Heading into the All-Star break having won four of five games, the Toledo Mud Hens continued their recent hot play with another strong week. The Mud Hens rode their pre-break success into a 5-1 week, capped by a four game winning streak, which is still in progress.

The ‘Hens will attempt to extend that streak tonight against Norfolk. While Toledo still sits 19.5 games out of first place in the division, the recent hot streak has them sitting now only 10 games below .500 at 44-54.

Running wild

While the Mud Hens have been strong on the base paths this season, ranking second in the International League with 94 steals, they took advantage of fortunate circumstances in their series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Mud Hens stole eight bases in the three games caught by Yankees' catcher Jesus Montero, who is known more for his bat than is skills behind the dish. Montero has only thrown out 19 percent of attempted base stealers this season.

The Mud Hens took full advantage, with Argenis Diaz, Timo Perez (3), Will Rhymes, Clete Thomas, Jeff Salazar and Ben Guez all swiping bases off Montero.

Carlos Guillen also had a steal for the Mud Hens, which came in the first game of the series. However, that steal came with Jose Molina behind the plate for the Yankees.

For Perez, the three steals brought is season total up to 12, a team-high, in 14 attempts.

Hot streak

Not surprisingly, with the Mud Hens' recent hot streak has come an increase in offensive production. The Mud Hens pounded out at least eight hits in five of the six games they have played since the All-Star break. The one game they had fewer than eight hits was the only game they have lost since the break, a 7-3 defeat by Scranton on July 15.

Leading the way has been Diaz, who has raised his batting average from .303 to .318 since the All-Star break.

He hit 12-for-25 (.480) this week two RBI, two extra-base hits and five runs scored.

On the season Diaz has been one of the most consistent bats for the Mud Hens. His .318 average is second on the team behind Rhymes, and his .394 on-base percent leads the team. While he has not yet hit a home run this season, he has 11 doubles and two triples, with 14 RBI and 35 runs scored, which is third on the team.

Also this week, Ryan Strieby appeared to find a bit of a power stroke. He clubbed three home runs, bringing his season total to a team-high 15. On the week, he had 10 RBI, bring his season total to an also team-high 58.

Strong starts

While the Mud Hens' starting pitching was not as outstanding as it had been earlier this month, the team still received four quality starts during the team's last six games.

Perhaps the most impressive came once again from Fu-Te Ni, who has transitioned excellently into the starting rotation. After throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings (28 pitches) against Scranton on July 16, he came back on two days rest to throw seven innings of one run ball against Norfolk July 19, allowing eight hits and no walks, while striking out four.

In three starts this season, the only three starts of his professional career, Ni has allowed only two runs in 17 innings, good for a 1.04 ERA, while opponents have hit only .212 against him.

The Mud Hens also received quality starts for Charlie Furbush (6 2/3 innings, two runs on five hits and a walk, six strikeouts), Duane Below (six innings on eight hits and three walks, five strikeouts) and Thad Weber (six innings, three runs on six hits and three walks, one strikeout).

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