Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Mud Hens

Weber hopes to keep playoff streak; Hens top Norfolk

The newest Mud Hen, Jon Weber, is riding an impressive streak.

The left-handed hitting outfielder has spent the previous four seasons in Triple-A, and each of those teams made it to the playoffs.

“Hopefully [that streak] doesn't stop, because I like it — and it doesn't get old,” Weber said before the Hens' 6-4 win over Norfolk at Fifth Third Field Friday night.

The 32-year-old Weber, who joined the team Thursday, was a member of the 2006 Tucson team that won the Pacific Coast League title, then beat the Mud Hens in the Bricktown Showdown. The last three seasons Weber played for Durham, leading the Bulls to three straight playoff berths, including the Governors' Cup title last season.

“To me, [Weber] is a veteran guy who has played at this level for a number of years and who knows how to play,” Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “He's a professional hitter at this level. We hope he'll be a leader with this club and be a good influence.

“And we hope he'll hit as well.”

Last season Weber was a post-season all-star in the International League after batting .302 with 14 home runs and 69 RBIs for the Bulls. He signed with the New York Yankees this off-season and was one of their final roster cuts in spring training, getting sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“I thought I was going to make the team, but I didn't,” Weber said. “No big deal – that has happened in baseball before, and it will happen again.”

Weber finished with a misleading .258 batting average with Scranton. He hit just .169 in April, but had a .309 mark in May.

“When I went to Scranton I had a rough start,” Weber said. “When they released me, they said they had to make a move, and I was the guy [to get released].

“That happens – it's baseball, and you can't do anything about it. So I went home to California. Then Detroit called and said they had a job for me in Triple-A, will you come play? I said absolutely. I'm at the point in my career where I can't sit around and wait. It was a good offer, so I took it.”

Weber is an outfielder who also should see time as the DH. But his potential value to the Hens goes beyond his bat.

“This is a good team, and there are a lot of good players here,” Weber said. “I know I'm not a bad player. Bad spells happen, and I had a bad month. I hope to come here, have fun and just play.

“If I couldn't perform or couldn't compete with the younger guys, I'd go home. But I can still play.”

Weber didn't play yesterday, because the Mud Hens faced a left-handed starter in Chris George. But they also didn't need much offensive help from Weber as they banged out 11 hits, including a pair of early home runs, to claim the victory.

Toledo got on the board in the first with a three-run home run by Jeff Larish, his 11th homer of the season. In the second Scott Sizemore followed a single by Jeff Kunkel with a drive off the base of the scoreboard in left, his third home run with the Hens.

Kunkel led off the third with a double and came home on a single by Brent Dlugach. Both Kunkel and Dlugach finished the night with three hits.

Meanwhile the Tides had plenty of baserunners in the early innings – Mud Hen starter Ruddy Lugo allowed seven hits and four walks in five innings – but Lugo and the Toledo bullpen kept Norfolk in check.

The Tides scored single runs in the first and second, and Michael Aubrey had a two-out, two-run double in the fifth.

Lugo finished five innings to claim the win as Josh Rainwater threw three scoreless innings in relief and Jay Sborz closed out the ninth to claim his 15th save.

“Ruddy got us through five,” Parrish said. “Ruddy throws a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and tries to keep you off balance.

“Rainwater had been scuffling, but he did a great job. He got outs, and he gave us innings.”

NOTES: Last night's crowd of 10,300 was the Mud Hens' second sellout in as many days and 10th this season. … Jeff Frazier went 0-for-3 with a walk to snap an eight-game hit streak, while Wilkin Ramirez went 0-for-4 to end a six-game streak.

Contact John Wagner at:jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.

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