Goetz, Smith, Cravey streaking:Bill Hass on Baseball from Grasshoppers’ Saturday night

from Bill Hass on Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com:

Goetz, Smith, Cravey streaking

Streaks, good and bad, are embedded in baseball and three Hoppers kept good ones going Saturday night in a 9-4 win over Lakewood.

Ryan Goetz led off the Hoppers’ bottom of the first inning with a home run, added an RBI double in the second and followed with three singles to finish with a 5-hit night. That came after a four-hit night Friday, making him 9-for-10 in the last two games.

Matt Smith drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the seventh inning. Coupled with the two home runs he hit Friday, he has five hits and six RBIs in the last two games.

And relief pitcher Kevin Cravey continued his remarkable season by picking up another win to improve his record to 10-0 and lower his ERA to 1.14.

Let’s start with Goetz.

“I have no idea,” he said when asked to explain his hot streak. “Early in the season I was hitting well, but not this well. I’ve never gone 5-for-5 before, not even in college.”

The home run, his fifth of the year, came off Lakewood starter Lino Martinez, who had a 2-0 record against the Hoppers this season.

“I just meant to hit the ball hard somewhere and a home run happened,” Goetz said. “Martinez had pretty much stuck it to us this season and we wanted to get on top of him early.”

Hitting coach Frank Moore joked that Goetz “must have eaten some Popeye’s Chicken.” He added that Goetz is “swinging at strikes, getting into good hitter’s counts and taking advantage of it.”

Smith came up in the seventh with the scored tied 4-4, two outs and the bases loaded against reliever Luis Paulino. Two key at-bats in the inning were by Josh Adams and John Schultz, who resisted the temptation to swing away and try to drive in the runners. Instead, they showed patience and drew walks to extend the inning and bring up Smith.

“They laid off some tough pitches and had good at-bats,” said manager David Berg. “Maybe they’re learning something.”

Smith took a couple of close pitches that were called strikes before pulling an inside fastball into the left field corner that scored two runs. Aaron Senne followed with a three-run home run that capped the five-run inning and put the game out of reach.

“You can’t think about it,” Smith said of the calls he didn’t like. “You have to focus on the next pitch; that’s about all I know to do. He gave me a fastball in and I got a good swing on it.”

Berg said Smith “looks relaxed at the plate and he’s not trying to do too much.”

Cravey entered the game in a sticky situation, relieving starter Andrew Heaney in the sixth with one out and a runner on first base. The BlueClaws had scored twice to take a 4-3 lead and Cravey’s job was to keep the score right there.

“You want to strand the runner and give the team a chance,” Cravey said.

He retired the first batter on a groundout, with runner Tim Carver moving to second base. Then Aaron Altherr hit a slow chopper that shortstop Austin Nola charged but couldn’t field cleanly (it was ruled an infield hit). The ball fell a couple of feet away from Nola and Carver churned around third base and headed home. Nola recovered and fired the ball to catcher Austin Barnes, who made the tag on Carver for the third out.

The Hoppers, as they have been doing all season when Cravey is in the game, tied it on Senne’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, then won it for him with the big seventh inning. He did his part by throwing 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief.

Asked if he thought things might catch up with him before the end of the season, Cravey replied: “I sure hope not. I just want to keep throwing strikes, pounding the zone and getting hitters in a defensive mode. And it’s nice when they score runs for you.”

Pitching coach Blake McGinley said Cravey had good command of his fastball and a good bite to his slider while keeping the ball down in the zone.

“I hope he gets everybody feeding off that,” McGinley said.

Nick Wittgren made his first appearance as a Hopper, retiring the side in order in the ninth inning.

The Hoppers added another pitcher to the roster, right-hander Sean Donatello, who will give the team an extra arm in the bullpen for a few days. Outfielder Brent Keys was placed on the disabled list with a bruised wrist.

The series concludes with a 4 p.m. game today. Jake Esch will pitch for the Hoppers.