— I feel like I should just create a template at this point for games like this. (Insert name of prized starting pitching prospect) goes five innings and for the most part looks good. (Assorted members of Thunder offense) contribute just enough to sneak by (name of opposition) for (win of varying importance). (Bullpen guys who were up to pitch that night) shut down opposition in relief of (aforementioned prized starting pitching prospect).
In this particular scenario, it was Manny Banuelos who threw 84 pitches over five innings of work — touching 94 MPH on the radar gun in the process — allowing two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out five to earn his first win as a starter since July of 2009.
“It feels great,” Banuelos said. “I had a long time where I didn’t get a win.”
Win aside, Banuelos did get into trouble a little bit, allowing a run in the second and fifth innings. But he was most concerned with the two walks he issued.
“I still need to keep working with my command,” Banuelos said.
“I had two walks, and that’s bad for me. I don’t want to have walks.”
Prior to his last outing, Banuelos knew he didn’t have his good stuff while warming up in the bullpen. This time, he said he felt much better in there, saying he had command of his pitches inside and out.
— Ray Kruml stole two more bases tonight and now has 15 on the year. Justin Christian holds the Thunder single-season record with 68 steals, and Kruml could very realistically challenge that record. If he could just walk a little more — his OBP is .297 and his OPS is a pretty abysmal .586 — he could be a much more legitimate threat to that mark.
— Cody Johnson’s “all or nothing” swing has produced somewhat of an all or nothing season. Tonight was no different, as he struck out twice in four at-bats…but he also connected for his team-leading fourth home run.
— Another job by the bullpen. Pat Venditte, Tim Norton, Wilkins Arias and Fernando Hernandez each spun a scoreless inning in relief of Banuelos. Arias made things interesting in the eighth by allowing two men to reach…but he got out of it by inducing a double play ball.
— As I mentioned prior to the game, Damon Sublett politely declined an interview request to speak about his possible conversion to pitcher. As was stressed at the time I broke the news, I can say that it isn’t anything serious yet. Tony Franklin also said today to “not put much stock in it” and that he was just “screwing around with it.”
But it does makes sense.
Sublett has experience as a pitcher in college and was regarded in some circles as being a better prospect as a pitcher than a position player. That aside, his career as a hitter has somewhat stalled out to be honest about, as his stints on the “disabled list” while being “hurt” can attest to. His stature in the organization would seem to have been made perfectly clear. So why not at least consider a change…a contemplation of a change that Franklin indicated was Sublett’s idea.
“I would do the same thing,” Franklin said.
“I would try to make myself attractive as much as I possibly can. If it’s the pitcher’s mound where I might light up somebody’s eyes up or somebody might take an interest in what I’m doing down there…and I think that’s what it was. Let’s face it, we’re in an industry now where if you’re not playing, you don’t feel like much of a part of the team and you want to try to do anything you can to try to get on the roster. And I think that’s what the case was.”
— Wasn’t really impressed by Reading starter J.C. Ramirez, who was named the Phillies minor league Pitcher of the Month for April. He lasted just three innings, and gave up six hits and a walk.
— I will be at the ballpark tomorrow for Shaeffer Hall’s start, but will not be able to attend Thursday or Friday’s games due to a commitment to covering the Trenton Steel in Erie, PA. Not sure about Saturday yet.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com