Goldschmidt Keeps D-Backs Alive Against Brewers
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PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks put one rookie on the mound and another in the No. 5 spot in the batting order in a game they had to win.
Both seemed oblivious to the pressure. Both came through brilliantly.
And the Diamondbacks lived to play another day.
Josh Collmenter, he of the unorthodox tomahawk-throwing pitching style, shut down Milwaukee’s big hitters for the third time this season and Paul Goldschmidt hit the third grand slam by a rookie in postseason history in an 8-1 rout on Tuesday night that cut the Milwaukee Brewers’ lead in the best-of-5 series to 2-1.
Neither player was on Arizona’s opening day roster, Collmenter coming up from Triple-A Reno first as a reliever, then becoming a starter. Goldschmidt didn’t arrive from Double-A Mobile until Aug. 1.
“They didn’t break camp with us, but we tried to lay it out how we were going to approach this and expose them to as much as we could,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “And then when they both came up, we put them right in the fire.”
The victory forced a Game 4 Wednesday night at Chase Field, where the raucous crowd of 48,312 was an obvious factor in Arizona’s one-sided win, just as it was in Milwaukee when the Brewers won the first two games.
“It was awesome,” Goldschmidt said. “Now to be back home and hear almost 50,000 people screaming for us is awesome.”
If Arizona wins Game 4, the deciding Game 5 will be Friday in Milwaukee in a rematch of Game 1 starters Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks and Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.
The Diamondbacks never led in the first two games of the series, but jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning of Game 3 on an RBI double by Miguel Montero and a run-scoring single by Goldschmidt, who tied a franchise postseason record with five RBIs.
“Those runs, coupled with the fact that I had already done well against Milwaukee and got out of a little jam in the first inning, I think threw all the momentum on our side,” Collmenter said.
Done well is an understatement.
The home run Corey Hart hit leading off the third is the only run Collmenter has allowed in 21 innings against the Brewers. This time, he limited Milwaukee to two hits in seven innings, none after Hart’s homer. He retired 15 of the last 16 he faced, with the lone exception a leadoff walk to Nyjer Morgan in the sixth.
“That’s what the coaching staff is asking ourselves is why is this guy so tough,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.
Collmenter’s fastball is average but he locates it well and has an exceptional changeup.
“It’s something about the deception on that fastball,” Roenicke said. “The change-up is very good. The change-up is down in the zone always. And he’s got great motion on it. And then he spots his fastball well.”
Roenicke opened his post-game news conference asking how many in the audience agreed with his move to walk Miguel Montero to load the bases in the fifth in front of Goldschmidt. Roenicke said he still thought it was the right move, even though it backfired so badly.
“I know the kid has got big hits,” he said, referring to Goldschmidt. “Montero scares me. Montero is a really good hitter. There’s not a whole lot of places you can go with him. Even when you make good pitches, he’s got a chance to hit. That’s not to say that Goldschmidt isn’t a good hitter, too. What I think he’s doing so well is he’s not missing mistakes. When he gets a mistake, he kills it.”
The two-out, opposite-field home run off Shaun Marcum blew open a 7-1 lead.
“Goldy is a big boy,” Montero said. “He is strong enough to hit that ball out. As soon as I saw the ball was gone, I turned around and went `Wow.'”
The only other rookie slams in postseason history were by the Yankees’ Gil McDougald in Game 5 of the 1951 World Series and the Yankees’ Ricky Ledee in Game 4 of the 1999 AL championship series.
“I had two strikes, so I was just trying to battle,” Goldschmidt said. “I can’t really sit on one pitch. He ended up throwing a fastball, and I’m sure he missed his spot because it ended up down the middle and I was able to get a good part of the bat on it. I knew I hit it well, but Hart was going after it hard. And luckily it was able to get out of here.”
Collmenter never gave the Brewers a chance to get into their “Beast Mode.”
Ryan Braun, 6 for 8 with a home run and two doubles as Milwaukee outscored Arizona 13-5 in the first two games, was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. Prince Fielder had an infield single in the ninth after being hit by a pitch following Braun’s walk in the first.
Collmenter fanned Rickie Weeks to end the first, one of his six strikeouts to go with two walks and a hit batter.
Marcum allowed seven runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
“The first two games we did our job and today we stunk it up a little bit,” Weeks said, “but we should come out tomorrow ready.”
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