— 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