AZ evens up best-of-5 NLDS at 2 games apiece
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
By Greg Dillard
Randy Wolf sat in the press interview room on Tuesday and talked extensively about the D-backs’ balanced lineup, depth and variety of players capable of doing damage prior to his Game 4 start.
He was spot-on in his assessment of the Arizona lineup. The D-backs possess all of those, and they showcased every one of them in a pivotal Game 4 thumping of Wolf and the Brewers.
One night after bashing eight runs on 11 hits to prolong the National League Division Series, the D-backs followed a similar model on Wednesday.
The D-backs plated 10 runs on 13 hits and four home runs while receiving contributions from everyone in the lineup. Eight different batters collected hits while four D-backs notched multi-hit games and all nine starters reached base safely.
The 10 runs from Arizona marked the third highest run total in a postseason contest in franchise history. The D-backs’ four home runs also established a single-game, franchise postseason record.
“We know we’re capable of scoring runs,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “So that was outstanding. But to keep things in perspective, we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We didn’t come here to win two games and not win the Series. We have to stay level headed about it.”
Milwaukee struck first by grabbing an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. That margin would be short lived. In typical Willie Bloomquist fashion, he jumpstarted an Arizona rally by drilling a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. After Justin Upton walked and Miguel Montero singled to load the bases, Ryan Roberts crushed a grand slam into the D-backs’ left field bullpen.
That dinger marked the second postseason grand slam in D-backs’ history, and the fourth consecutive game at Chase Field in which the D-backs have hit a grand slam.
It didn’t take long for the D-backs to tack on another run when Chris Young launched a solo blast one batter later. The back-to-back long balls from Roberts and Young marked the first time in which D-backs players had done so in a postseason game.
In the third inning, Gibson called on his bench by having Collin Cowgill pinch-hit for starter Joe Saunders. Like so many of Gibson’s moves this season, it paid off.
The rookie outfielder laced a two-RBI single into left field for a pair of crucial runs. With Cowgill’s two RBI, Arizona rookies have now driven in eight runs in the series, which ties a rookie record for postseason RBI in team history.
Whether it’s Cowgill, Paul Goldschmidt or any of the other D-backs rookies, they all have had a profound impact not only in the 2011 postseason, but throughout the regular season, as well.
“We obviously have confidence in them,” Gibson said. “That’s why they’re in the game. We’ve brought guys up from Double-A, and they were exposed to a very good environment down there, as well. They’ve got good stuff. They’ve got good abilities.”
Despite the early offensive barrage from Arizona, the Brewers were unwilling to go down without a fight as they scored runs in the first three innings en route to six in the game.
Milwaukee’s offense became a non-issue when the D-backs kept their foot on the gas.
Young struck again in the seventh by depositing a Chris Narveson 2-1 pitch into the left-field stands for a two-run bomb.
“I was just looking for something up the middle, honestly,” Young said. “In the playoffs your adrenaline is flowing so much you’re just trying to hit the ball hard. You’re not thinking about homers, you’re just thinking about having good at-bats and trying to get on base to produce runs. And every now and then you square some up.”
His second long ball made him the first player in D-backs’ history to smack two home runs in a postseason game. With five career postseason homers, the centerfielder is now the D-backs’ career postseason home runs leader.
“It’s been nice,” Young said. “I’ve been here for quite a few years now. I’ve been able to experience the ups and downs of this season and actually hang out with guys like (Luis Gonzalez) and Matt Williams and guys from that old team, as well. So I respect that and I take it as a compliment. That’s pretty cool.”