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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

Mud Hens' Miner majoring in wins

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo pitcher Zach Miner is all smiles as he leaves the field after eight 
innings against Indianapolis. He struck out eight and gave up two hits. Toledo pitcher Zach Miner is all smiles as he leaves the field after eight innings against Indianapolis. He struck out eight and gave up two hits.
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Mud Hens pitcher Zach Miner was good last week - so good, in fact, that he was named the International League's pitcher of the week.

But the word "good" isn't good enough to describe how well the 24-year-old right-hander threw in pitching Toledo to a 3-0 win over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field yesterday morning.

Miner allowed only a pair of singles and two walks in eight strong innings, striking out a season-high eight to win his third straight start. The Hens' victory in the first of three School Celebration Days of the season also snapped a five-game win streak by the Indians.

"Everything was working [for Miner]," catcher Brian Peterson said of his battery mate.

"His two-seam [fastball] was really good away to lefties and in to righties. And when you can spot a change-up to a right-handed hitter, they've got no chance.

"His curveball had great break. I think he gave up two hits on the curveball where he pulled out his front shoulder. Other than that he was sharp and kept everybody off balance."

Miner also used his sinker effectively, getting 11 outs on ground balls thanks in part to a pair of double plays. The Indians also hit into a third double play on a popout to shortstop with a runner trying to steal in the second and had only three fly ball outs.

In Miner's last three starts the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has allowed just five hits and seven walks that resulted in one unearned run while fanning 16 in 19 innings.

"I've been doing a lot with [pitching coach Jeff] Jones on the side trying to get a better tempo going," Miner said. "It really has helped me command my pitches and throw the ball where I want to. A good pitch is nothing if it doesn't go where you want it to.

"I can't say enough about how great Jonesie has been, and my catcher [Peterson] is doing a great job, too. I'm out there throwing, but there are a lot of guys behind the scenes who are helping me."

In the first three innings the Mud Hens seemed poised to waste another strong pitching effort after getting shut out in a strong start by Wil Ledezma Wednesday. But Toledo broke through for a fourth-inning run that Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish described as "charmed."

Indianapolis starter Tom Gorzelanny got ahead of the first hitter, David Espinosa, 1-2 and threw a pitch the home-plate umpire called a strike. But a ball got loose behind home plate and the third-base umpire called time before the pitch was thrown, negating the strikeout.

Given new life, Espinosa lined the next pitch down the third-base line for a double.

Espinosa's luck held when he broke for third on a ground ball in the hole off the bat of Ryan Ludwick, Espinosa beating the throw to the base to put runners on first and third with none out.

One out later Ludwick was running when Ryan Raburn hit a ground ball to first base. Espinosa raced home with the run, and Ludwick was safe at second when Indianapolis first baseman Yurendell de Caster chose to retire Raburn at first.

"It was like Espinosa was out three times, and they never got him out," Parrish said. "When a team's struggling and it finally scores, that takes the pressure off a little bit."

Toledo added some insurance with a pair of long home runs. Josh Phelps lined a monster shot to right, his second home run of the year, to lead off the fifth, and Mike Hessman slammed his league-leading sixth homer of the season when he cleared the fence in deep left-center to open the sixth.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.

NEW YORK - Striking minor league umpires and management settled an unfair labor practice charge filed by the union after resuming bargaining this week following a layoff of 2 1/2 months.

Umpires, who have been on strike since the start of the season, claimed the Professional Umpire Development Corp. threatened to fire employees who went on strike.

Management made what it terms its final offer to the union on Jan. 31. Talks resumed with a federal mediator Wednesday in Cincinnati, and the union said there was no progress. Talks continued yesterday.



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