As A.J. Achter returned to Toledo with the Rochester Red Wings Monday, he had a simple request.
“I wrote on the pass list, ‘Just leave as many as you can,’ ” Achter said with a laugh, noting that as many as 50 friends and family would come to Fifth Third Field to watch the Oregon native and Clay High School graduate.
Achter did not see action in the Mud Hens 2-1 win over the Red Wings, as Rochester starter Pat Dean needed just 86 pitches to throw a complete game.
Dean surrendered just nine hits and two walks in his eight innings of work, but a trio of Toledo pitchers — Josh Zeid, Drew VerHagen, and Guido Knudson — were one run better as the Hens snapped a three-game losing streak.
PHOTO GALLERY: Rochester Red Wings at Mud Hens
When the Tigers called up Buck Farmer before Monday’s game, the Hens were left without a starting pitcher. So Zeid accepted a “spot” start and covered four innings, his longest effort this season, and allowed just two hits.
One of those hits was a home run by Reynaldo Rodriguez in the second that accounted for Rochester’s only run.
Drew VerHagen followed with three scoreless innings to claim the win, and Guido Knudson covered the last two frames for his seventh save.
“Zeid had to throw a lot of pitches, but when he came into the strike zone it was good, quality stuff,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “He gave us four innings, and VerHagen gave us three solid innings.
“And Knudson had the best batting average against left-handers [on our staff], so we decided to roll the dice for two innings. And it worked.”
Toledo’s runs came in the first, when Mike Hessman hit into a double play with the bases loaded that scored Dixon Machado from third, and in the fourth, when Green’s double into the right-field corner scored Trayvon Robinson from first.
Since the Red Wings trailed, Achter did not see action. That is largely because Rochester manager Mike Quade has used the 6-5, 205-pounder as his team’s closer.
“When you watch someone [like A.J.] as a scout, you see he has a good change-up and throws 90-91, and you think, ‘That’s a nice pitcher,’ ” Quade said. “But when you watch him pitch every game, and you see him locate all of his stuff. He’s just a pitch-making machine.”
Achter, who enters this series with a 4-2 record and 14 saves, which ranks fourth-best in the International League, said he likes that challenge.
“It’s been the first time in my career that’s I’ve been exclusively a late-inning guy,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed this role.
“When you pitch in high-leverage situations just about every time you go out there, it forces you to make all of your pitches every time you pitch.
“There have been a few times I’ve been hit a little bit, but for the most part it has been a consistent year, and that’s all I want to do.”
All of Achter’s peripheral numbers are impressive. While his 2.74 ERA is solid, opponents are hitting just .168 against him (the best mark among IL relievers), and his 8.02 base runners per nine innings are two runners lower than any other league reliever.
“I normally haven’t walked a lot of guys in the past,” Achter said. “But when you’re a late-inning guy, you can’t put guys on base for free.
While Achter is enjoying his time with Rochester and his return to Toledo, his goal is to be promoted to Minnesota. But the 26-year-old said he does not wish ill upon any member of the Twins bullpen so he can replace them.
“You pull for those guys up there,” he said.
NOTES: The Mud Hens released 1B Jordan Lennerton during their recent road trip, and he signed with Atlanta to join the Braves’ Triple-A Gwinnett team. … After Monday’s game the Mud Hens announced that RHP Warwick Saupold will be promoted from Double-A Erie to start today’s 7 p.m. contest. … 1B Marc Krauss was optioned to Toledo over the weekend and is expected to join the team today. To make room for him on the roster the Hens send Green to Erie. ... Monday’s crowd of 8,994 was the team’s 16th sellout this season and the 406th in Fifth Third Field history.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.