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July has been an unkind month to Mud Hens right-hander Yorman Bazardo.
He entered the month riding a four-game winning streak that had improved his record with Toledo to 7-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.49. But in his first four starts this month he was 0-2 and had 7.29 ERA.
But last night Bazardo put the month and his struggles behind him with a flourish, tossing a dazzling four-hitter to carry Toledo to a 4-1 victory over Richmond.
What a quality start, Mud Hens manager Mike Rojas said. He mixed up his pitches well, had a quality change-up and kept a good hitting ball club off-balance.
It was a key start for us because we used the bullpen a lot [Friday] night, and he gave them a rest.
The only problem with Bazardo s start was a pinch he felt behind his left shoulder in the fifth inning, an injury that both Bazardo and Rojas said isn t considered serious. I felt a little pinch on the last pitch to Brayan Pena in the fifth inning, Bazardo said. I was trying to throw too hard and flying open a little bit and probably strained the muscle.
It s nothing bad, and I won t miss my next start.
Bazardo certainly was fine during the game. The 23-year-old threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 28 hitters he faced and reached a three-ball count to just four Braves.
I think he was the total package. He did everything right, Rojas said. He left one pitch up for a triple, but otherwise he did an excellent job.
What made the start even more impressive was that the R-Braves came into the game having won six in a row, a streak that helped them surpass the Mud Hens as the team with the best record in the International League.
But Bazardo mowed through the Braves through the early innings, not allowing a base-runner until walking Brandon Jones on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the fourth.
Brent Lillibridge broke up the no-hitter with a two-out triple in the fifth, but Bazardo got a fly out to end that inning. He then allowed an unearned run in the sixth as Pete Orr singled with one out and moved to second when Bazardo threw wildly to first trying to pick him off. He scored on a two-out single by Jones.
Bazardo retired the Braves in order in the seventh, then got a pair of identical double plays line drives to first baseman Chris Shelton that allowed the Hens first baseman to step on the bag at first to finish the game.
Bazardo never threw more than 13 pitches to retire the Braves in any inning, using just eight pitches to set them down in three innings.
I think his change-up was his key pitch, because he could throw it [for a strike] any time, said Hens catcher Dane Sardinha. When we got behind, we d come back with the change-up and we d either get even or come within striking distance.
His fastball was working well and his slider was working better than it usually is. And when all three pitches are working, you have a better chance.
The Hens used a bloop single by Henry Mateo and back-to-back bunt singles by Andres Torres and Timo Perez to load the bases in the first inning off Richmond s Kyle Davies.
Brent Clevlen worked Davies for a nine-pitch walk with one out that forced Mateo home, but Davies managed to escape further trouble by getting a pair of shallow fly outs.
Toledo scored two runs in the second as Chris Maples walked and scored on Sardinha s double off the wall in left-center. Sardinha took third on a groundout and trotted to the plate on a sacrifice fly by Torres.
Shelton slammed his 10th home run of the season over the fence in left-center to close the Toledo scoring.
Shelton hit a big home run and we did get a run with the bases loaded in the first, although I wish we could have gotten more, Rojas said.
But beggars can t be choosers. We just need to keep battling and keep having quality at-bats.
Contact John Wagner at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6481.