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Published: Tuesday, 6/26/2007

Up next: the lowly Lynx

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Yorman Bazardo gave up only four hits in seven shutout innings to earn his sixth victory.
Yorman Bazardo gave up only four hits in seven shutout innings to earn his sixth victory.
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The Mud Hens have just finished a four-game series with Indianapolis that has produced some of the most exciting baseball Fifth Third Field has ever seen.

The first three games between the leaders of the International League's West Division were scintillating contests played before sellout crowds - three close games that were decided in the Mud Hens' final at-bats.

"This has been special the last couple of days," said Kevin Hooper. "Indianapolis is a very good team, but so are we. Both teams are playing well, and the intensity of the crowds has made it more special."

Tonight the Hens begin a four-game series against Ottawa, which is last in the IL's North Division and has the second-worst record in the league. And, the Mud Hens have played the Lynx recently, winning three of four in Canada's capital city June 18-21.

Any chance for a letdown?

"There's no letdown in these guys," said Mike Rojas, Toledo's interim manager. "When you're playing a team like Ottawa, which can hit the ball the way they can, you can't let your guard down. If you do let your guard down, that can bite you in the butt."

PITCHING ON THE WAY: Before yesterday's game the parent Detroit Tigers announced that right-hander Zach Miner would make two rehab appearances for the Mud Hens. He will pitch one inning today, then come back with one inning of work tomorrow. The Tigers said Miner's future status would be determined after tomorrow's outing.

Meanwhile, left-hander Jon Connolly, who was promoted from Double-A Erie to start for the Hens Friday, has remained with the team and will start Thursday against Ottawa.

UNSUNG HERO: When asked about the recent run of success the Mud Hens have enjoyed, Rojas pointed to a potentially overlooked factor: the work of athletic trainer Matt Rankin.

"Rankin has done a great job of getting guys back on the field as fast as he can," Rojas said. "Hooper has been battling some injuries, and [Rankin] got him back on the field so he could keep being a catalyst for us. And [Jack] Hannahan was hot before he got hurt, and 'Rank' got him back to help us with his bat."

THREE-DOT DATA: Three Mud Hens extended hitting streaks last night. Ramon Santiago doubled in the second inning to extend his current streak to 11 games, while Ryan Raburn singled in the fourth and Hooper singled in the sixth to give each an eight-game hitting streak. The Hens' four-game sweep of Indianapolis marked the third straight four-game series the team has won. Toledo hasn't lost a series since losing three-of-four at Pawtucket May 11-14. Among those throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before the game was Thomas Walton, retiring vice president-editor of The Blade, while former BGSU basketball star Josh Almanson won the bicycle race contest held before the fourth inning.



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