Archive for May 2nd, 2011

Game 24: Post-Game Notes

May 2, 2011

— For as uneventful of a game as that felt like, there is a bit more to get to in the post-game notes than you might expect.  For starters, if you look at the boxscore and see Ray Kruml’s 0-for-3 night with 2 K’s and 4 LOB, you could safely assume he didn’t have a great game.  And maybe he didn’t…but, while you’ll see Fernando Hernandez gets credit for the save, it was Kruml’s diving grab that truly saved the game for the Thunder tonight.

With runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Che-Hsuan Lin dug in against the former major leaguer.  Lin hit a little flare to right field…and well, I’ll let Kruml tell you the rest:

“I had a good read on it, but it kind of went in the lights for a second,” he said.

“I heard Mesa yelling ‘dive, dive, dive’ and I found it at the last second and decided to dive for it.”

Kruml, one of the more unheralded players on the team, was the star of the show on this night…but was more focused on his team getting the win.

“The team was playing well,” he said.  “They had two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, you always want to do something like that and help the team out.”

Thunder manager Tony Franklin said in the dugout that “now is the time when you have to play, now is the time you’ve got to really want it.”  That, says Franklin, was the play where Kruml really wanted it.

“The game could have taken on a different complexion if he doesn’t make that play,” Franklin said.

“But that’s what defense is all about, to shut them down.  We get the two quick outs, but then all of a sudden, they get a couple of runners on.  Before you know it, you’ve got the winning run at home plate.  And that’s what defense does, you make those plays when it’s time.”

— Craig Heyer was your starter for the evening’s ballgame.  He was good early, but got touched up for two runs on three hits in his fifth and final inning of work, including a long home run to right field off the bat of Chih-Hsien Chiang.

“It’s not that I ran out of gas, I just didn’t make some pitches when I had to,” Heyer said.

“I was falling behind hitters late in the game, and good hitters at the Double-A level are going to make you pay for it.”

Such, says Heyer, was the case on the longball.  Chicks dig it…he didn’t.

“It was just a mistake, he hammered it,” he said.

“I fell behind 2-0 and I had to come after him, and he hit it.  I think Tony and the guys would rather see me going after a guy than pitching around him late in the game when we’re up by three.  I went after him, and I’m not happy I gave up the home run, but we got out of there with the win today, so that’s good.”

Heyer told us after the game that he isn’t sure of his role going forward — he’s currently in Graham Stoneburner’s rotation spot — but that he’s treating every start like it’s his last and will do whatever the organization asks of him. 

“I’ve been used to that,” Heyer said, “going back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation.”

— The bullpen…they were good.  Tim Norton: 2 IP, no baserunners, 3 K’s.  Brian Anderson: 1 IP, 1 BB, 3 K’s.  Fernando Hernandez: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.

Norton especially will be the story to watch…he’s been lights out all season long, and has 19 K’s in 12 2/3 IP so far this season, with a 0.71 ERA to boot.

— Speaking of the bullpen, I spoke to Franklin and Austin Romine for my Norton story.  It’s coming along.  You’ll see it soon…probably one quote away from being good to go.

— Corban Joseph is on a 14-game hitting streak and an 18-game on-base streak.  Just sayin’.

— Steve Garrison pitches tomorrow at 10:35 AM.  You will not see evidence of this on the blog tomorrow.  I will be sleeping, avoiding young children running through the concourse who would otherwise be further screwing up my knees by running into them. 

Dellin Betances is on the bump Wednesday, Manny Banuelos Thursday.  Enjoy em’ all while they last, kids.

— There is some concern in regards to a dip in velocity with Naoya Okamoto.  As of now, though…there’s no reason to believe it isn’t a phantom DL move.  Wilkins Arias was available tonight, but did not pitch.

— Franklin did not find out until this morning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. 

“It was good news,” he said.  “It’s been a long time, we’d been chasing after him for a long time.”

Franklin was in High Desert, California getting ready for a playoff game with Lake Elsinore when the events of September 11, 2001 took place. 

“I was pretty shocked when it happened,” said Franklin, whose family was fortunately not affected by the tragedy.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 24: In-Game Updates

May 2, 2011

INFO

THUNDER WIN, 5-3. Ray Kruml’s diving catch with two runners on saves the day…

Fernando Hernandez in for the save chance in the 9th.

Anderson strikes out the side in the 8th…

Norton: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K’s. Brian Anderson in for the 8th.

Still 5-3, Trenton, B7.

Jose Pirela reached on an E-5 that would have ended the inning, plating a run in the process…5-3, Thunder, B5.

Tim Norton in for Heyer to start the sixth…Heyer: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Chih-Hsien Chang just demolishes a Heyer offering deep to right field and way gone…a two-run shot, and Trenton’s lead is cut to 4-3, in T5.

Maruszak knocks in another one…and it’s a 3-1 Thunder lead, B4. Dan Brewer with an RBI single with the runners moving…and we’ve got a 4-1 game, B4.

Alex Hassan with a one-out, bases loaded sac fly to RF in the top of the 3rd…Portland on the board, cutting Trenton’s lead to 2-1.

Trenton takes a 1-0 lead in the botom of the second off a hard hit ball off the bat of Corban Joseph…single right back through the box…Addison Maruszak with a single of his own down the left field line, and Trenton now leads 2-0.

0-0 after one…Brewer stole second after reaching on a clean single, but was stranded there.

VIDEO

Tim Norton

Austin Krum

Daniel Brewer

Austin Romine

Game 24: Pre-Game Notes

May 2, 2011

7:05 PM — Some photos…

Dan Brewer

Austin Krum

Craig Heyer

5:50 PM — Naoya Okamoto is “hurt” and Wilkins Arias is off the DL and active.  I spoke to Tim Norton as well, for a feature you’ll see in a few days…definitely won’t be ready yet, need to speak to a few other folks as well before that goes live.

4:20 PM — Lineups…

PORTLAND

Lin, CF
Hee, SS
Hassan, RF
Federowicz, C
Lavarnway, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Tejeda, 2B
Padron, 1B
Chang, LF

Huntzinger, P

TRENTON

Krum, LF
Brewer, DH
Romine, C
Suttle, 3B
Mesa, CF
Joseph, 2B
Pirela, SS
Kruml, RF
Maruszak, 1B

Heyer, P

4:00 PM — Not a whole lot going on here…workouts as usual.  Should have some stuff later today, though.

I have some leftover quotes from Tony Franklin, so let me pass those along.  No one can fill a recorder like that man, let me tell you…

On Myron Leslie’s release: “It’s unfortunate that we had to let anyone go.  That’s never a good thing.  But we had to make room, and Myron was the odd guy out.”

On the value of Ryan Baker: “Just knowing he’s there, it’s a very comforting feeling.  You don’t have to rush to get someone up, you’ve already got someone here.  I feel pretty confident and comfortable with that situation.”

On when Manny Banuelos starts to get extended: “There are some concerns with the blister simply because he had a blister, and you’ve got to be cautious with it and keep an eye on it.  You don’t want it to get to a point where it’s going to start to affect his pitching again.  And you have to protect his arm, he’s a young guy with a very valuable future.  So we’ve got a few things working there.  As time goes on, I’m sure the pitch count will escalate a little bit.  There’s no need to rush him, I kind of think he’s going to be here all year.”

On Fernando Hernandez’s role and going on back to back days: “So far, he’s been the guy at the back end of games that we’ve gone to.  Until something changes, he’s probably going to be the guy back there.  Yeah, I guess you can call him the guy that’s going to close games for us.  I think that’s the first time we’ve (used him on back to back days).  There’s a chance it might happen again.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Duff On The Way Back

May 2, 2011

So far, you’ve heard from two out of the three pitchers listed on the Trenton Thunder disabled list; Jeremy Bleich and Alan Horne.

Well, I was able to track down the third one as well.

Big, hard-throwing reliever Grant Duff hasn’t pitched since June 27, 2010, the result of a stress fracture that was discovered in his right pitching elbow.  Prior to the detection of the fracture, the friendly fireballer initially tried to use rest to heal the injury, but he experienced discomfort during a side session and was shut down.  The fracture was then discovered, and Duff hoped to avoid surgery, but instead had a screw inserted into his arm.

I exchanged a few messages with Duff early this afternoon, and he wrote the following: “Things are going pretty good.  I pitched in my first game on Saturday and my arm felt good.”

Duff told me he will throw in an extended spring training game tomorrow, and then another on Friday, and is then hoping to receive an assignment to a team, presumably Tampa for the time being. 

Duff said he was initially discouraged by some discomfort in his arm that he experienced after long toss or throwing harder, and that getting used to having the screw in there took some getting used to.  But he reports that he was hitting 90-94 MPH on the radar gun and joked he has “no complaints about that.”  He said, as Nardi Contreras also told me, that his split was good.

Unfortunately, the righty was sidetracked at an inopportune time.  Duff had made great strides towards pitching in the big leagues.  He had been selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League in 2009, and was pitching well out of Trenton’s bullpen, primarily serving as the team’s closer.  He also received his first call-up to Triple-A Scranton.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com