Kratz survived a brutal collision with Chipper Jones at home plate in the fourth inning in Friday's 8-5, 10-inning victory over the Braves at Turner Field, but bounced up to hit a game-tying home run against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. They were the two biggest plays in a game that improved the Phillies to 63-69 and moved them within eight games of the National League Wild Card leaders with 30 games to play. The Wild Card remains a tremendous long shot, but Philadelphia is at least making things interesting.
"That takes some toughness," Roy Halladay said of Kratz's collision at the plate.
"He's Thor," Kevin Frandsen said.
Kratz, 32, continues to make his case to be Carlos Ruiz's backup next season. He is hitting .290 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in just 93 at-bats.
"Do I see him on the roster?" said manager Charlie Manuel about Kratz when asked about next season. "Yeah. If you look what catcher do we have that does as good as Kratz? Chooch was having a tremendous year, but since Kratz got in there, he's having a big year, too."
Kratz's performance cast aside a rough night for Halladay, who fell ill Thursday night. He looked exhausted early, sweating profusely and taking several breaks on the mound. Halladay, who allowed seven hits, four runs, four walks, two home runs and struck out three in 4 2/3 innings, told pitching coach Rich Dubee after the third inning that "he had no legs."
"I didn't feel very good [Thursday] night," Halladay said. "I felt better once I got here. I was just kind of zapped when I got out there. I tried to battle as much as I could. I just didn't have enough there by the fifth inning."
But he continued.
He walked the first two batters he faced in the fourth, but got Brian McCann to fly out and Dan Uggla to strike out. Paul Janish followed and laced a ball up the middle to send Jones around third to try to score. John Mayberry Jr., whose three-run home run in the 10th won the game, scooped up the ball and fired home. The ball arrived a millisecond before Jones collided with Kratz, who was standing straight up when he took the hit.
It looked like a linebacker crushing a tight end coming over the middle to make a catch. But Kratz, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, held onto the ball.
"It definitely was quick," Kratz said. "Mayberry did a tremendous job of getting to the ball. He got rid of it great. Normally you're going to take a little bit more time to get an accurate throw, but he got it right to the plate. If it was up the line at all I might be dead, but he made a great throw. A great throw right on the plate, so I was able to stay there. Obviously, it was bang-bang."
Kratz popped up, showed the ball to Halladay and jogged back to the dugout, flipping the ball from his glove into the stands.
No big deal.
Philadelphia scored three runs in the sixth to tie the game at 4, but Uggla homered off Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-4, Atlanta.
No matter, Kratz would save the day a few innings later.
Kimbrel got Kratz to 0-2 thanks to a couple of sliders, but he elevated a fastball on the third pitch and Kratz ripped it into the left-field seats to tie the game. It was an impressive at-bat, but even more impressive coupled with this statistic: Kimbrel had struck out 34 of the 39 batters he faced this season when he got to 0-2 in the count.
"It's definitely not the location I was trying to put it," Kimbrel said. "I was trying to elevate on him and didn't go high enough. He's a good fastball hitter and he put the barrel on it and you saw what happened."
"Did it look like I was thinking fastball?" Kratz said. "He made two nice pitches at the start. I don't even know where the last one was. I was able to barrel it up there."
It was his second biggest hit of the night, but both helped the Phillies win the game.