Joel Zumaya had no trouble finding zip on his fastball, but finding the plate was a different matter last night.
Joel Zumaya found 100 mph on the radar gun early in his appearance last night at Fifth Third Field. He had a much more difficult time discovering consistent control.
The Detroit Tigers reliever gave up two runs, one earned, in one-plus innings last night for the Mud Hens. In his second rehabilitation appearance with the Hens, Zumaya threw as many balls as strikes in 34 pitches and had two walks.
"Tonight was just a rough night," Zumaya said. "I couldn't throw strikes. It's something I have to work on."
The Hens beat the Indianapolis Indians 4-3 courtesy of Freddy Guzman's walk-off home run off the right-field foul pole. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and improved the Hens' record to 39-28.
When Zumaya, the 23-year-old right-hander, entered the game in the seventh the Hens had a 3-0 lead. He gave up a walk and a hit in his first inning but did not allow any runs. He struck out cleanup hitter Ronny Paulino on a pitch that registered 100 mph on the radar gun.
Zumaya hit 100 again on a pitch to the next batter, Steve Pearce, but ended up walking him. When he issued the free pass, Zumaya yelled in frustration.
Mud Hens pitching coach A.J. Sager (49) talks with Joel Zumaya between the seventh and eighth innings last night at Fifth Third Field. Zumaya, in Toledo on a rehab assignment, threw 34 pitches.
"I [pitched 100 mph] a couple times just to show the fans I still have it in me," Zumaya said. "I was pressing too much and trying to make it a little too perfect."
In the eighth, Zumaya failed to record an out after facing three batters. Sandusky native Brian Bixler led off with a weak tapper to the mound, but Zumaya's throw to first was to the right of the bag and Bixler advanced to second.
Matt Kata drove in Bixler with a double to center field. The final batter Zumaya faced, Andrew McCutchen, drew a walk.
"He probably feels like, 'I beat myself,'•" Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "They hear the fans yelling and they want to light up the radar gun. You can't forget you've got to get hitters out."
Earlier last night Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters in Detroit that Zumaya possibly could rejoin the team next weekend in San Diego. Zumaya, who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, said this outing was not a setback for him.
"My road's been really, really good so far and everybody runs into a bad one," Zumaya said.
The Hens got out to an early lead in front of the crowd of 7,759. With the bases loaded in the second inning, Derek Wathan singled to right to score two runs. Wathan later scored on a passed ball by Paulino.
Hens starting pitcher Chris Lambert was exceptional. Lambert gave up one hit, a leadoff double to Paulino in the second inning, in six innings. He had seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Hens closer Blaine Neal blew his first save of the year in the ninth. Bixler had a two-out RBI single to tie the score.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Guzman smacked his second homer of the season to end it.
"It was a fastball, and I was looking for a good pitch to get around on," said Guzman, "to hit a home run."
Before the game, outfielder Timo Perez was placed on the disabled list retroactive to Monday. Perez tore a calf muscle in the Hens' game on Sunday and is expected to miss at least three weeks.
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