Diehard Q&A: Arnie Beyeler (Part Two)

Diehard spoke recently with Double-A Portland manager Arnie Beyeler about the Sea Dogs' historic 8-7, 17-inning win over Connecticut April 16. In part two of this Q&A, Beyeler discusses the decision to send outfielder Jay Johnson—who made himself the winner by delivering an RBI double in the 17th inning—to the mound as well as how impressed he was with Johnson's efforts.

When did you start thinking you might have to turn to a position player against Connecticut?

Arnie Beyeler: We thought about it several times. Just the way it happened, pitchers just kept doing a good job and we were able to extend them a little bit. We didn't want to hurt anybody. Get into games like that, you're just trying to get through them and hopefully not hanging someone out there to dry. And you've also got to think about the next day and things like that. So [the relievers] did a nice job and extended the game enough and we just got to the point where Jay had pitched before, he pitched here for us last year one time, and he went out there and did a great job. Threw two scoreless innings.

Did you have to talk to management with the Red Sox as the game went longer and you ran out of pitchers to use?

Arnie Beyeler: No, we kind of had mapped out who pitched and how many innings they were available that night. When you get into a situation like that, you're definitely going to stretch guys a little bit. At the same token, if we've got a guy slotted for two innings and we stretch it to three because he's getting guys out…it's more of a performance deal. As long as they're getting guys out and staying kind of comfortably within the pitch [counts] that we have—if a guy has got 35 or 40 pitches and we run him up to 50 and get another inning, that's what we've got to do. And that's what we do with the next guy and we hope we put two or three innings together and something happens offensively. You never plan on playing two games in one night.

Aside from his experience on the mound, what made you decide to turn to Jay?

Arnie Beyeler: We had an extra outfielder on the bench, so we could just flip-flop the two guys. All that stuff comes into play. We've got to have the right player enter into the right spot. If not, we would turn to somebody else. It just worked out and he went in there and he got a double play ball in the second inning of work to get out of some trouble. And then he was coming up [to bat]—it was a pretty neat thing to watch. Real fortunate that he did that to help the team out and then he got to be the hero for the night.

How impressed were you with the performance? He struck out three and escaped that bases- loaded jam in the second inning.

Arnie Beyeler: It was pretty neat. He said he learned a lot from throwing last year, where he just tried to throw hard. This year, he tried to throw strikes [with] a little run, a little sink. He came up with a little knuckleball that he toys with. He actually threw one in there for one of the strikeouts. It's difficult for guys—they're in a no-win situation. You're usually in a situation where you're getting blown out. The hitters have nothing to gain when they're facing a position player and vice versa. You give up hits, it's expected. He did a fantastic job. He's a guy that'll do anything to help the team out.

Just neat he got the opportunity. He drove the ball down the line and we had a guy [Jeff Corsaletti] that could really run on first base and scored. It was a pretty neat night, even though it was a long, miserable night just from a playing the game standpoint. We had to get on a bus and go seven hours to Binghamton after the game.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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