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Published: Saturday, 4/5/2008

Larish leads Hens hit parade with a 3-run shot

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Timo Perez, left, and Derek Wathan, right, congratulate Jeff Larish after the Mud Hens first baseman hit his first home run at the Triple-A level. Larish had two hits, Perez had one and Wathan collected three as Toledo scored nine runs on 12 hits against Durham at Fifth Third Field last night. Timo Perez, left, and Derek Wathan, right, congratulate Jeff Larish after the Mud Hens first baseman hit his first home run at the Triple-A level. Larish had two hits, Perez had one and Wathan collected three as Toledo scored nine runs on 12 hits against Durham at Fifth Third Field last night.
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Jeff Larish picked up his first hit at the Triple-A level last night.

But it was his second hit - a towering three-run homer that led the Toledo Mud Hens to a 9-2 triumph over the Durham Bulls - that Larish will remember.

Larish, the Detroit Tigers minor league player of the year in 2007, went 0-for-4 in the Hens' season-opening victory Thursday, and weakly lined out to the second baseman in his first at-bat last night.

But with Derek Wathan and Timo Perez on base and one out in the fifth inning, the Hens first baseman blasted a changeup from Bulls reliever Ben Hendrickson that bounced off Fricker's behind the right-field wall and put Toledo up 6-0.

"It felt good," Larish said.

Last year he hit 28 homers for Double-A Erie.

"I try to approach my at-bats the same, whether I'm 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, because you're going to have games like that. You have to try to stay relaxed and trust yourself."

Larish, who also reached on an infield single in the third, was just one participant in the Hens' hit parade. Wathan had a triple, two singles and scored three runs. Henry Mateo and Mike Hessman each had two hits, and Toledo collectively produced 12 hits. Perez doubled, was on base three times, and scored three runs.

Hens right fielder Matt Joyce, who like Larish is a Triple-A rookie, also had his first hit with Toledo - a two-run double in the seventh.

"It was good to see those guys cash in," Hens manager Larry Parrish said.

Hens starting pitcher Armando Galarraga was strong in his Toledo debut, allowing just three hits and striking out six in five innings. He issued one walk and was limited to 74 pitches.

Galarraga, acquired in February in a trade with the Texas Rangers, went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA for Double-A Frisco last year.

The right-hander made four starts in Triple-A and pitched in three games - one start - for the Rangers at the end of the season.

"He probably could've gone back out there, but I don't know if he would've finished the next inning," Parrish said.

"He had a good sinker tonight at times, and early in the game his breaking ball was sharp. The last inning he started laboring a bit with it."

Durham starter Mitch Talbot was charged with three runs, two earned, on eight hits in four innings. Hendrickson had it much worse, giving up six runs in 22/3 innings.

Bulls third baseman Evan Longoria, the Tampa Bay Rays' top prospect, is 0-for-7 in Durham's two losses.

THIEVERY: Perez stole another base last night and now has three in two games. The 32-year-old only had 13 steals all of last season for Toledo.

Last night Perez stole second in the seventh inning with the Hens up 7-2.

"He was on his own on that one," Parrish said.

"He said he thought he caught them sleeping. To me, that's a gray area to run in that situation."

AVAILABLE FOR DUTY: Toledo left-handed reliever Clay Rapada, who suffered from a sore shoulder in spring training, threw two simulated innings on Wednesday and can be used in the game tonight.

Rapada pitched in two games for the Hens and four for the Tigers last year, but spent most of the season with Triple-A Iowa (Chicago Cubs). He went 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 55 games in Triple-A last year.

TONIGHT: Hens left-hander Macay McBride (1-0, 3.38 ERA with Toledo last year) will pitch at 7 p.m. tonight against Durham right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu (5-4, 4.04).

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.


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