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Published: Tuesday, 6/27/2006

Hens' pitching was excellent, even though starters were relievers

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Mud Hens have been blessed with fine starting pitching almost all season long, so it shouldn't have been much of a surprise that Toledo got good work from its starters in a doubleheader sweep of Norfolk last night.

But it was, since the two starters were members of the Hens' bullpen making their first starts of the season.

Left-hander Corey Hamman threw five strong innings - two innings more than his previous high this season - to win the opener. Then right-hander Steve Green matched Hamman's five innings of work - besting his previous high of 22/3 innings - to earn the victory in the nightcap.

"No way you could expect both of those guys to give you five innings tonight," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "And they were quality innings. It was more than we could have hoped for."

In game one the Tides scored once in each of the first two innings, with the second-inning run coming when Victor Diaz slammed Hamman's first pitch of the inning high over the fence in left-center for his sixth home run of the season.

After the homer Hamman retired the final 12 batters he faced, finishing with just two hits, two walks and two runs allowed.

"Before the game [pitching coach Jeff Jones] said, 'Try not to go nice and easy - if you throw two innings, you throw two, and if you throw six innings, you throw six,'●" Hamman said. "I just wanted to keep our team in the game.

"I got in the groove, and I was throwing my change-up for a strike a lot more often," Hamman said. "I just had them put the ball in play instead of trying to strike guys out."

Green said Jones also told him not to worry about how many innings he pitched.

"To be honest, I thought I wouldn't go more than three or four innings," Green admitted. "But after I got warm, Jonsie said to me, 'Don't try to baby it. Throw like you would in a normal relief situation, and we'll see where it takes us.'●"

Green got the win thanks in large part to starting a triple play that gave him the fifth and final inning necessary to earn the victory.

THIS IS A TEST: The Mud Hens knew they were facing a rough patch of the schedule, so the clubhouse was especially happy about winning twice last night.

"We flew in from Syracuse and got here about noon, and we knew we had a doubleheader, and we knew we had a noon game [today]," David Espinosa said.

Parrish was ecstatic with the way his team responded to the challenge.



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