Happy birthday, Brennan Boesch.
The Mud Hen rightfielder celebrated his 25th birthday in style yesterday, slamming a home run and making a highlight-quality catch to propel the Hens to a 6-3 win over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.
The 6-4, 235-pound Boesch quickly earned a spot on the highlight reels by making a fine catch on a ball hit by the Indians' Jose Tabata to start the game. The right-handed hitting Tabata stroked a curving liner toward the right-field line that Boesch snared with a dive.
"I played against Jose last year [in Double-A], and I know he likes to go to right field quite a bit," Boesch said. "I was on my toes on the first pitch, knowing that you have to be especially [ready] for a guy that goes the other way.
"I got a good jump on the ball, and that helped me make the catch."
In the third Boesch followed RBI singles by Will Rhymes and Brent Dlugach by slamming a three-run homer to cap a five-run Mud Hen rally.
"The first time up he chased some balls out of the [strike] zone," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said of Boesch. "So we talked to him about looking for pitches down in the zone. Second time up, he got the ball down in the zone and hit it well."
After striking out in the first, Boesch stroked an 0-1 pitch by Indianapolis starter Jeremy Powell well over the fence in right for his first Triple-A home run.
"Since I've been here I think I've been trying to do too much," said Boesch, who has hit .300 in his first five games. "I think that's a trap guys fall into when they join a new team or a new situation.
"So I just tried to swing at a good pitch and not try to do too much."
Boesch said yesterday's game was easily the best he has played on his birthday as a pro, seeing as it included his first hit in eight birthday at-bats.
"April has not been kind to me as a professional baseball player so far," he said.
Last season, Boesch hit .203 in April, giving him a career average of .197 for the month heading into this season.
But in years past, the young outfielder's bat has warmed up with the weather. Last season he led the Eastern League in home runs with 28, finishing with a .275 batting average, 93 RBIs and 89 runs scored for Erie.
Boesch said he has felt comfortable in his first few games at Triple-A.
"I haven't seen much different than I saw in spring training," he said. "I think the biggest difference is that I'm trying to not do too much or think too much.
"I'm just trusting that my abilities make me good enough to play at this level."
In last night's contest the Hens fell behind when the Indians' Steve Pearce slammed a two-run home run in the second off Toledo starter Alfredo Figaro. But the young right-hander settled down and gave up just one more run while pitching out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth to earn the win.
"I was beginning to wonder [if he could finish the fifth] because he was getting close to his pitch limit," Parrish said of Figaro. "We were trying to let him get the out [and the win], but I almost went out there to get him."
The bullpen again was strong, allowing just one walk in four scoreless, hitless innings.
"The bullpen has been good in four of our first five games," Parrish said. "I think the key has been that we've kept the ball down when pitching out of the bullpen, and we've mixed up pitches - [throwing] in and out, up and down.
"We've 'pitched' out of the bullpen. The game our bullpen didn't 'pitch' was the game in which it gave up the runs."
NOTES: OF Casper Wells, who injured his right pinkie finger in the season opener, played centerfield yesterday. It was his first game in the field since the opener. … The Mud Hens were 4-for-6 when batting with runners in scoring position last night. … Indianapolis LHP Corey Hamman, a former Mud Hen, also celebrated his birthday yesterday. Hamman turned 30. … C Mike Rabelo took the Mud Hens' lineup card to the umpires before yesterday's game. Toledo is 2-0 when Rabelo handles that chore and 0-3 when Parrish does the honors.
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