This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There's a statue of Geoff Blum in Chicago. Maybe Steve Heltz thought the man himself would swing just as slowly.
As his team clung to a one-run, fifth-inning lead, the Bees pitcher fed Blum with a fastball over the middle. Heltz had just loaded the bases with his third walk of the game, but a 39-year-old with a sub-.200 average likely didn't seem the biggest threat.
But there's a reason the old man has been immortalized in bronze.
Best known for his go-ahead home run in 2005 to end the longest World Series game ever, Blum hooked the pitch on a beeline for the right-field berm.
It all but sealed the Bees' 12-4 loss at Spring Mobile Ballpark, their 10th in 11 games.
"Right now, we're just going through a funk," said manager Keith Johnson.
Blum, currently on a rehab assignment for a torn oblique, notched the second grand slam Salt Lake has surrendered this season. Reno first baseman Ryan Wheeler was responsible for the other, which secured a 9-5 win on April 30.
Relief isn't on the horizon for the Bees (36-40), who are 3-6 against the Aces this year. They host division-leading Reno three more times in the series, with stud prospect Trevor Bauer (4-0, 2.79) taking the mound for the Aces on Sunday.
Blum's grand slam opened the floodgates for Reno (46-30), which entered the game with the Pacific Coast League's second-best batting average at .308 and outhit the Bees 11-5. Shortstop Jake Elmore padded Reno's lead with two more runs, extending his league-best hitting streak to 30 games. Wheeler added a three-run homer in the final frame.
Catcher Hank Conger, who started the day with the PCL's second-longest active streak, put the Bees on board in the first inning with a sacrifice fly to center field. He went 0-for-2 with a walk, ending his milestone at 21 games three short of the franchise record.
Salt Lake shortstop Ed Lucas knocked a solo shot over left field in the fourth inning to give his team a short-lived lead. The Bees never scored again.