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Published: Thursday, 5/17/2007

Poor Tigers outing can't deter Vasquez

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

On the outside, Virgil Vasquez didn't look any different yesterday.

But Vasquez hopes the experience he gained in a spot start with the parent Tigers in Minnesota Sunday will make him a different pitcher in the future.

"It was a great experience - I got a chance to pitch where I've wanted to all my life - in the big leagues," Vasquez said of Sunday's start in place of Jeremy Bonderman. "The guys up there treated me well. I just couldn't control my adrenaline the way I wanted to."

Vasquez struggled against the Twins, surrendering four runs in the first before getting knocked out of the game after giving up two more runs in the third. His final pitching line included nine hits allowed plus a walk that resulted in six earned runs.

"I wasn't consistent. I wasn't pitching," Vasquez said of his effort with the Tigers. "I feel I didn't have my stuff. I competed, and I wasn't scared.

"I went out there with a 'here it is, hit it' mentality, but I didn't have my best stuff."

Vasquez earned Sunday's assignment by pitching well in his first seven starts for the Mud Hens. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA and 50 strikeouts, second-best in the IL.

But Vasquez said Sunday's start gives him direction for improvement here in Toledo.

"I need to work on being more consistent down in the zone," Vasquez said. "I need to work on a slower pitch to get their timing off, whether it's a curve or change-up. And I need to be consistent with everything."

The spot start also gives him something new for which to strive.

"I couldn't wait to make it [to the big leagues], but I wanted to stick," Vasquez said. "I knew it was a spot start and I would be right back. So I need to come down here, do my job and help the team.''

PITCHING PROBABLES: Today's doubleheader will force both Toledo and Louisville pitchers to cover a pair of seven-inning games after throwing 11 innings just 32 hours earlier.

The Mud Hens will start right-hander Zach Miner in the first game, with the bullpen - which threw 91/3 innings yesterday - expected to cover the second contest.

The Bats will counter with right-hander Richie Gardner, who was called up from Single-A Sarasota earlier this week, and right-hander Steve Kelly, making just his third start in eight appearances, in the nightcap.

PARRISH RETURNS: Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish has rejoined the team - and he plans to stay with the squad the rest of the season.

Parrish, who had surgery on his left foot a day before the season began, now has a walking cast on the foot. Parrish said that, if all goes well, the cast will be removed June 29.

Parrish said that he hopes to get approval from the parent Tigers to stay with the team when it takes to the road next week.

ANOTHER CELEBRATION: Yesterday's morning game was the third of four School Celebration Days for the Mud Hens, and the result was a capacity crowd of area school children.

The crowd of 10,300 was the second sellout this season and the 142nd in the six-year history of Fifth Third Field. It also marked the 13th morning sellout.

Toledo has hosted 22 School Celebration Day games and has a 15-7 record in such contests.

THREE-DOT DATA: The Mud Hens are 2-6 in extra-inning games and have lost three extra-inning contests in the last six days. The Bats' win evens their record in extra innings at 4-4. Mike Hessman's two hits extend his current hit streak to five games.



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