Stingy Wilk earns elusive win for Toledo

Tigers prospect surrenders one hit, fans seven over six innings

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | July 5, 2012 7:33 PM ET

Entering Thursday's start, Adam Wilk was 3-9 over 13 starts for Triple-A Toledo this season, including a 1-9 stretch over his previous 10 decisions dating back to May 6. If you throw in the three Major League starts he made for the Tigers in April, he was 3-12.

But the left-handed pitcher isn't concerned with his own record. Rather, he reserves his worry about the Mud Hens' spot in the standings at 34-52, 20 games behind Indianapolis for the International League West Division lead before Thursday.

"The wins and losses haven't been great, but I don't pay attention to them so much," he said. "As a pitcher, you do look at your personal line just to see how it looks, but you always know those things come and go.

"As a team, we've been struggling. There's been times when the offense has bailed me out, and there have been times when I've been on the short end of the stick. That's just the way it goes. It's my job to give the team a chance and try to throw as many zeros as I can up there on the board."

Wilk certainly did that Thursday.

The Tigers' No. 16 prospect allowed only hit through six scoreless innings to give the Mud Hens a 6-1 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field. He added seven strikeouts and three walks over that span as he improved to 4-9 with four games left in the first half. With the victory, the Mud Hens are 3-11 in their last 14 contests.

"My velocity was good, even though I didn't have as great fastball command," said the southpaw, who also holsters a curveball, a changeup and a cutter. "My secondary stuff was pretty much on though, so I had a good mix going with that and was able to keep the batters off balance."

Wilk opened with two perfect frames before walking two in the third inning. He surrendered his first and only hit of the night in the fourth when Chad Huffman lined a changeup over the head of Mud Hens shortstop Argenis Diaz.

Following the single, the California native retired the next seven Clippers he faced to finish his outing after six innings and 97 pitches -- 58 of which were strikes.

Given the way the night ended, Wilk could have focused on the lone hit, but instead he took the opposite approach.

"It's definitely not something I'm worried about," he said. "You need luck to throw a one-hitter. The defense behind had to make a lot of tough plays too. [Diaz] made a really good play on a slow roller in the first. So overall, you don't kick yourself. A no-hitter would have been nice, but I'm happy with the win."

Despite the lack of victories this season, Wilk has enjoyed success in other areas. He is in a three-way tie atop Minor League Baseball with three complete games this season. His 0.99 WHIP ranks fourth in the International League; his .219 batting average-against is fifth.

Given that type of success, the former Long Beach State hurler may find a return trip to Detroit, where he went 0-3 with a 8.18 ERA over three starts in April, before the year is up. While some believe the 24-year-old has the potential to be a back-end starter in a Major League rotation, others in baseball circles see his ceiling as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.

Wilk, who made five relief appearances with the Tigers last season, will take either role, so long as it means pitching at the game's highest level.

"I enjoy starting, but the No. 1 goal is being up there helping out the team however I can," he said. "If they need me to come on in relief to get lefties out, I'd be glad to do that too. All I want to do is help the team win a World Series. That's the big goal. I have my feet wet as a reliever, so I feel comfortable in either role."

John Lindsey homered twice and drove in four runs for the Mud Hens on Thursday. The 34-year-old designated hitter has three homers and 13 RBIs through his first nine games with Toledo after signing as an offensive replacement for the Japan-bound Brad Eldred. He batted .341 with 21 blasts and 64 RBIs through 76 games for Vaqueros de la Laguna of the Mexican League earlier this season.

"Offensively, it's hard to replace Eldred, but he's been able to do that here," Wilk said. "He's definitely a big-time hitter who's really helped us out. He's stepped in and really been the backbone of our offense here."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More