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Mud Hens repeat as IL champs, Bricktown Showdown next

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Mud Hens repeat as IL champs, Bricktown Showdown next

Postby Dannomyte » Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:24 am

TOLEDO, Ohio -- It didn't take long for Toledo to turn the Governors' Cup title game into batting practice.

The Mud Hens, who have been mauling opposing pitchers all season, trained their lumber on Mike Smith on Saturday night at Fifth Third Field, and it didn't take long for them to lambaste the Rochester starter. Toledo blasted three second-inning homers en route to a 10-1 romp over the Red Wings for their second straight Governors' Cup title before a raucous sellout crowd of 10,300.

In all, Larry's Wall Bangers cracked four homers for the second straight night as Toledo became the 11th team to repeat as International League champions and first since Durham went back-to-back in 2002-03. The Mud Hens, who won their only other title in 1967, will travel to Oklahoma City to face Tucson, the Pacific Coast League champion, in Tuesday's Bricktown Showdown.

"It's been like that all year," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We can look bad at times, but every time we get our backs against the wall we come out fighting and play our best baseball like we have the last two nights. You don't get used to this [winning]."

Smith, who had started and pitched so well in Game 1 on Tuesday, was coming back on short rest and it showed. The Hens touched him for a pair of first-inning runs, stringing together three hits, with Josh Phelps doubling in Dustan Mohr for a 1-0 lead. Jack Hannahan's sacrifice fly provided a two-run bulge before the Toledo Lumber Company went to work in the second.

Mike Hessman led off the inning with his fifth playoff homer to give Toledo a three-run cushion. Max St. Pierre doubled, and two batters later, David Espinosa sent Smith's first offering onto the concourse above the right-field fence. Mohr followed by sending a shot to virtually the same spot, giving the Hens seven homers in an 11-inning stretch.

"We really came out smoking," said Parrish, who saw his team collect 71 hits in 10 playoff games, 22 of which were homers [31 percent].

Phelps padded the lead in fourth with a two-run blast off Dave Gassner.

"We just ran into the '27 Yankees," Rochester manager Stan Cliburn said. "I've never seen a team like that hit home runs at will."

Corey Hamman (1-1), who had not pitched well in three postseason appearances, including a loss in Game 1 of the semifinals against Charlotte, labored through 5 1/3 innings for the win. The left-hander threw 72 pitches, allowing one run on seven hits [three by Andres Torres] and a walk with two strikeouts.

"I just tried to put everything together and throw strikes," Hamman said. "When you get nine runs in four innings, there's not much more you can ask for. I tried not to relax after the first inning, pretending it was still 0-0 or 1-1. You can't lessen up because they have a great team."

While Toledo scored in each of the first four frames, the Red Wings hit into double plays in each of the first three. And when they looked to threaten in the second, Mohr made a spectacular leaping catch against the center-field fence on Kevin West's drive that essentially took whatever life was left out of Rochester. Parrish called it the game's turning point.

"I think I turned five double plays all year, so to get three in this game is something else," Hamman said. "We have a lot of faith, in these guys and when you have faith see what happens."

It also didn't hurt that Rochester couldn't get a hit when it mattered most. The Red Wings were 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position over the final two games. The Toledo bullpen was just as effective as Hamman, and by the time Parrish pulled his starter the outcome was already decided. A trio of relievers pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing three hits while striking out four and not walking a batter.

"I was here for the playoffs last year and this feels exactly the same," Hamman said. "The fans in this town, they really take us in. This is a great baseball town." ... &fext=.jsp
Last edited by Dannomyte on Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby moochman » Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:53 am

I'm hoping that just as we heard about all the pitching in our system, the hitting noise made in our minors will soon be rocking ballparks in the Show.

Congratz MudHens ;-D
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Postby Dannomyte » Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:37 am

Bricktown Showdown Preview

WHAT: Toledo Mud Hens vs. Tucson Sidewinders in the inaugural Bricktown Showdown

WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

WHERE: AT&T Bricktown Ballpark on Mickey Mantle Plaza


Colby Lewis appears to be the logical choice, especially since Chad Durbin was promoted to Detroit after the Hens won the Governors' Cup, and Brian Boehringer started Friday against Rochester. Lewis has been strong in the postseason, starting a pair of games (winning one) and posting a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings. He's fanned 12 and walked five while holding the opposition to a .220 batting average. Lewis has had a week's rest after going six innings in the opener of the Governors' Cup Finals. The Toledo bullpen has been brilliant in the playoffs, posting a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings. That ERA would be 0.00 if not for the four runs surrendered by Lance Davis. Lee Gardner hasn't allowed a run in six appearances while John Ennis, Bobby Seay and Preston Larrish have kept the opposition scoreless in four outings apiece.

Wow, where do you start? The Sidewinders seemed to breeze through the PCL playoffs and pitching was a big reason why. Tucson manager Chip Hale said Friday that former Tulane star Micah Owings will start Tuesday. He has had a brilliant season and that's carried over into the playoffs. Though he didn't record a decision in two starts, his ERA was 1.35 over 13 1/3 innings. He's fanned 13 and walked only two. Owings was 16-2 with a 3.33 ERA in 27 starts between the Southern and Pacific Coast leagues, but he really blossomed once he reached Tucson, going 10-0 with a 3.70 ERA in 15 starts. Overall, he allowed eight homers in 162 innings, a ratio that certainly won't favor the homer-happy Mud Hens. There aren't many pitchers who'll have a better time of it than Dustin Nippert has in the postseason. He's started a pair of games and won them both, posting a 0.63 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. He's struck out 13, walked only four and has scattered seven hits over that stretch. And with "Mike squared" closing out games, the Sidewinders have been nearly unhittable. Mike Koplove and Mike Schultz each have a pair of saves and neither has allowed a run in a combined 8 2/3 innings. Tucson's 2.81 team ERA was the best of the four PCL semifinalists.


Rochester manager Stan Cliburn likened the Mud Hens to the '27 Yankees after they pounded out eight homers in the final two games of the Governors' Cup. While Toledo isn't nearly as prodigious as the legendary Murderer's Row, it does have a great deal of pop and an all-or-nothing approach that became almost comical during the playoffs. Toledo led the league in homers (152) and strikeouts (1,194) during the regular season and didn't slow down during its 10 playoff games. The Hens connected for 22 homers and fanned 110 times to blow past Indianapolis, Charlotte and Rochester. In fact, 31 percent of Toledo's hits in the playoffs have been homers. Mike Hessman led the way with five homers and nine RBIs while hitting .306. The left-field wall, only 325 feet from home plate, should make for an inviting target. While there was no MVP named in the Governors' Cup, it was clearly Hessman. Dustan Mohr and Josh Phelps each connected for four home runs while leadoff man David Espinosa added three. The drawback -- Toledo only hit .218 as a team.

The Sidewinders have used pitching and defense to win games, hitting only two homers in seven playoff games, and those roundtrippers didn't come until the seventh inning of Friday night's clincher. Robby Hammock had one of those homers and was named the Pacific Coast League Finals MVP. He's hitting .320 with six RBIs through seven playoff games. Kenny Perez has appeared in five games and is hitting .364, while Jon Weber, who has appeared in every game, is hitting .310. The Sidewinders, though, only hit .238 as a team through the PCL playoffs, and stole just three bases in four attempts. As evidenced by the fact they didn't hit their first home runs until the end of the seventh game, this club has displayed the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they are presented. Outfielder Scott Hairston had 26 homers during the regular season but hasn't gone deep in the playoffs. ... The Sidewinders played four games in Oklahoma City this season, losing three of them. They hit .194 (25-for-129) as a team in those games with three homers, but that had more to do with the Red Hawks' pitching than it did with the ballpark.


Tidewater won the Triple-A World Series in 1983 when it was a round-robin event with the Pacific Coast League and the now-defunct American Association. ... The International League lost all four Triple-A Classics against the American Association between 1988 and 1991. In addition to the Wings' 1990 loss to Omaha, they also lost in six games to Indianapolis in 1988. ... The Pacific Coast League won two of the last three Triple-A World Series held between 1998 and 2000. New Orleans and Vancouver were victors in the first two series before Indianapolis won the final Triple-A World Series in 2000, topping Memphis three games to one in Las Vegas. Overall, the International League has participated in a postseason championship 64 times since 1905, winning 27 times. ... Toledo has won three Governors' Cups, including the last two. ... Toledo came into existence as a franchise in 1883, going 56-28 to finish in first place in the Western League, which was disbanded three years later . ... Tucson won its first Pacific Coast League title since 1993 and back then, the club was known as the Toros. ... The Toros also won a title in 1991. The Sidewinders began the season with a 4-11 mark but quickly righted things and finished with a PCL-best 91-53 record. ... The winning team will split a $30,000 purse while the losers will receive $15,000.


Tucson's pitching. The Sidewinders have been brilliant for much of the season and have shown no signs of slowing down over the past two weeks. Even if Owings falters, Nippert will be available to pick up the slack.


With such tremendous starting pitching and the inconsistency displayed by the International League champs, it is difficult not to go with Tucson. ... &fext=.jsp
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