Archive for May 20th, 2011

Franklin To Return Tonight

May 20, 2011

He’s back.

Tony Franklin, the beloved fifth-year manager of the Trenton Thunder, will return for tonight’s game against the Portland Sea Dogs at Waterfront Park.

Franklin has been out of action since suffering chest pains prior to a recent game — the team was managed by Justin Pope in his absence — but team officials confirmed that he will be back tonight.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Everybody Should Love Raymond

May 20, 2011

What’s not to like about Ray Kruml?

Having entered the season as somewhat of an afterthought on Trenton’s roster, the 25-year-old outfielder has arguably been the team’s most consistent player, with his .267 batting average good for second-best among team regulars and his 15 stolen bases one ahead of Austin Krum for the team lead.

It’s been a slow, but steady climb through the system for the soft-spoken but personable South Alabama grad, and it’s his speed that has likely taken him as far as he’s gotten.  Since debuting in the organization with Short Season-A Staten Island in 2008, Kruml has stolen 93 bases and been caught just 19 times, good for a 83 percent success rate.

“It’s just been a lot of work throughout the years, working with different coaches and different managers that I’ve had,” said Kruml, when asked to explain his prowess on the basepaths.

“I’m trying to pick up little tidbits from pitchers, anything to try to get an edge.  Whether it’s trying to get something from the catcher, trying to get something from the pitcher and looking at him before the game in the bullpen, whatever.  Timing is a big thing, you’ve got to know when you’re beat.  If the pitcher’s too fast, you can’t steal on him.  You’ve got to just shut it down and find another way to get from base to base.  I guess I just pick some good times to go.”

Kruml has always considered himself as more of a speed guy, someone who hits ground balls and line drives and does his damage on the basepaths instead of trying to touch all four bases in one shot.

“I’m not going to drive the ball out of the ballpark very often, maybe once a year,” Kruml said.

“So I’m just trying to get on base and cause havoc that way.  I can score from first on a ball in the gap if the guy behind me can hit me in.  I can steal a couple bases, get in scoring position for those guys to drive me in.”

Kruml played football, starring at running back and wide receiver during his younger days, and described himself as always being that “smaller, fast guy.”  But nobody had really described him as a prospect before.  But in a system that is suddenly thin on outfielders, Kruml is slowly putting himself on the map for a possible call-up to Triple-A Scranton.

“I’m just trying to play my game, trying to do what I can to help the team win,” he said.

“I think if I learn my game a little bit better and trust it and learn what type of player I am a little bit better, I’ll be able to help out the ballclub a lot better.”

One thing Kruml admits he can improve on this season is his walk rate.  In 120 at-bats, Kruml has just eight walks compared to 26 strikeouts.  For someone with his speed, a little more patience at the plate can be key, and it’s something Kruml is well aware of at this early point in the season.

“I’ve been in the cage a lot just trying to lay off pitches,” he said.

“I’ve always had high punchouts, and I’m trying to work on that getting down.  Hopefully as the season goes on, I can get the walks up and the punchouts down and try to even them out.  But I’m not trying to go up there looking to walk.  I’m trying to get on base any way I can, whether it’s a hit an error or anything.  Walks will come as long as I’m patience and stay in the zone.”

Bunting, says Kruml, is also another weapon in his vast arsenal.

“I’ve had five or six bunts already this season for base hits,” he said.

“If the opportunity presents itself and the third baseman is playing back, I have no problem bunting.  Maybe if I show bunt, I’ll draw them in and I’ll be able to shoot it past them at first or third.  It’s definitely a weapon I can use to try to shift the infield and try to open up some holes.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Red Sox Sign Millwood

May 20, 2011

Numerous Boston and national outlets are reporting that the Red Sox have signed former Trenton Thunder pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league contract.

Millwood, the owner of a Major League no-hitter and All-Star Game appearance, was signed by the Yankees to a similar deal and got out of the gate strong, spinning a one-hit complete game shutout in the first game of a doubleheader at Waterfront Park on April 17.

The 36-year-old righty was called up to Triple-A Scranton and put together another solid start, allowing two runs over seven innings in a win over Syracuse, but it all fell apart five days later after a disastrous start in Charlotte.  Millwood subsequently used his much-publicized opt-out clause to become a free agent, and had been on the market ever since.

Despite having already pitched in three “real” games, reports have Millwood being sent to Boston’s minor league complex to get some work in extended spring training before joining one of the team’s affiliates, likely Portland or Pawtucket.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Pitching Matchups vs. Portland

May 20, 2011

5/20: POR Alex Wilson vs. TRE Dellin Betances
5/21: POR Brock Huntzinger vs. TRE Craig Heyer
5/22: POR Stolmy Pimentel vs. TRE Manny Banuelos

I won’t be able to attend tonight’s game due to a commitment to the Trenton Steel and will likely only be able to make Sunday’s contest. The conflict with the Steel should be the last of the season, and coverage will return to normal.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

16 Inning Getaway Day Win

May 20, 2011

(PR) (Erie, PA) – The Trenton Thunder (21-18) outlasted the Erie SeaWolves 9-6 in 16 innings on Thursday at Jerry Uht Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Thunder broke a 6-6 tie in the top of the 16th inning on a Ray Kruml RBI double to right field. One batter later, Addison Maruszak belted a two-run homerun to left, padding the lead and allowing the Thunder to split the two-game, rain-shortened series in Erie.

The SeaWolves took a 5-3 lead with them into the top of the fifth inning, but the Thunder would answer back in a big way. After Austin Romine doubled to left, Bradley Suttle tied the score with his two-run homerun to right field. The game would remain tied until the top of the 15th inning.  

In the top of the 15th inning, Suttle scored Corban Joseph on a sacrifice fly to center, giving Trenton a 6-5 lead. It looked as though the Thunder would wrap-up the game in the bottom half of the inning, but Brandon Douglas knocked a two-out, seeing-eye single to center to plate Shawn Roof from second to tie the score at six apiece.

The Thunder would respond in the top of the 16th inning, though. With Melky Mesa at second, Ray Kruml lined a double to right field, scoring Mesa to break the tie. One batter later, Addison Maruszak laced a two-run homerun to left field to extend the Trenton lead to 9-6.

Fernando Hernandez then set down the SeaWolves in order in the bottom of the 16th, picking-up his third win of the season along the way.

The Thunder return home Friday at 7:05 PM to welcome the Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox) to Waterfront Park for the first of a three-game set. RHP Dellin Betances (2-1, 0.76) will get the pearl for Trenton. The highly-touted righty will oppose Portland’s RHP Alex Wilson (4-2, 3.57). Tune-in to the game on 91.3 WTSR-FM and on trentonthunder.com. The SBLI Pre-Game Show with Jay Burnham and Hank Fuerst begins at 6:45 PM.

The first 1,500 fans 18 and older to Friday’s contest will receive Travel Mugs courtesy of Capital Health. Friday night is also another Mrs. G’s Raffle, where a lucky fan will win a Frigidaire Upright Freezer and Chest Freezer (valued at $948). Fans can sign up at the Mrs. G’s table on the concourse at Waterfront Park.