When Kyle Ryan joined the Mud Hens at the start of August, he brought a 7-10 record and 4.55 ERA with him from Double-A Erie.
But those numbers have meant nothing in his five starts for Toledo, including Monday’s 5-0 victory over Louisville.
Ryan held the Bats to just one hit in six strong innings and combined with relievers Kenny Faulk and Justin Miller on the Hens’ 14th shutout this season.
“[My success] could be because it’s the first time [I am pitching] against these teams,” Ryan said. “I’m the same guy — I just try to go out there and have fun.”
Ryan allowed only a first-inning single by Ruben Gotay and pitched around three walks. The 22-year-old lefty picked a runner off second to escape a second-inning jam, got a double play to end the fourth, and after that twin-killing retired the next six Bats in a row.
“My command wasn’t all there, but I could get my off-speed pitches over the plate,” Ryan said. “But I just tried to throw strikes and let my defense do the work for me.”
Ryan improved to 3-0 with Toledo and lowered his ERA to 1.64. He has surrendered 21 hits and five walks while fanning 20 in 33 innings.
“I think he’s one of those guys that batters don’t pick the ball up well against,” Hens manager Larry Parrish. “Some of his pitches cut in, and some sink away.
“And it’s tough for hitters to pick out, especially when the ball is moving.”
Early on it looked as if the Hens would need Ryan to throw a shutout as they scored just one run until the sixth.
Toledo needed help from Louisville to score that run in the opening inning. Daniel Fields got things started with a grounder up the middle; both the shortstop and second baseman failed to field the ball, then both forgot to cover second and Fields reached second with a double.
Hernan Perez laid down a sacrifice bunt, but no one covered first to allow Perez to reach on a single and Fields to move to third, and Fields scored on a single by Jordan Lennerton.
The Hens finally broke the game open with a four-run sixth.
Lennerton, who finished with three hits, beat out an infield single, moved to second when Mike Hessman walked, and one out later Wade Gaynor singled at the end of an eight-pitch at-bat.
“That was a tremendous battle,” Parrish said.
“He fouled off three or four tough pitches, and he got the hit that got [Ben] Guez up there.”
Guez, batting with the bases loaded, cleared the bases with a double to deep left.
“That was a big hit,” Parrish said. “We had all kinds of chances and hadn’t come through before that. We thought the first would be a big inning, and we scored one, and after that we didn’t score for a long time.
“So that hit was huge.”
Marcus Lemon capped that rally with a two-out double down the left-field line that scored Guez.
While the Mud Hens’ Governors’ Cup playoff hopes ended despite the win because of an 11-9 victory in 10 innings by Columbus, Ryan said he has enjoyed getting promoted to Triple-A.
“It’s been very exciting,” Ryan said. “I was surprised to get called up to Toledo.
“But now I see opportunities arising. I saw [the Tigers promote] Blaine Hardy, and he and I are similar. It shows me I have a chance [to pitch in the major leagues].”
The Mud Hens close the home season with games today and Wednesday against the Clippers, with both starting at 6:30 p.m.