PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks came home and created a new way to celebrate big hits.
Now that “The Snake” has started rolling, there may be no stopping it.
Changing the complexion of the NL division series with a powerful display, the Diamondbacks hit another grand slam among their team-record four homers to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 10-6 Wednesday night and force Game 5.
Outgunned by Milwaukee’s “Beast Mode” in the series’ first two games, the Diamondbacks came up with “The Snake” after returning to the desert in an 0-2 hole.
The brainchild of catcher Miguel Montero, the hand gesture – a cupped right hand that makes a striking motion – has taken over the series as Arizona has bashed its way toward what may be its greatest comeback in a season filled with them.
“We’re not going to give up, even when we’re down 2-0,” said Chris Young, who drove in three runs. “In the clubhouse, we still believed we could do it. At the time our goal was to get back to Milwaukee. We’ve reached that, so it’s a toss-up now. We’re going to be ready to go.”
A day after rolling over the Brewers 8-1, the Diamondbacks struck quickly and often in Game 4, scoring five runs in the first inning off Randy Wolf. Ryan Roberts had the big blow with a grand slam, making the Diamondbacks the second team – with the 1977 Dodgers – to hit grand slams in consecutive playoff games.
Young added the first of his two homers in the next at-bat, Aaron Hill had a solo shot and Arizona had 13 hits to send the series back to Milwaukee for the decisive game Friday. It will be a rematch of Game 1 between 21-game winner Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks and fellow right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
“This team is resilient,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’re going to play hard and I expect this team to have a real good game on Friday.”
Written off by many after being outscored 13-5 in the first two games, baseball’s best rally team – 48 comeback wins during the regular season – has put itself in position to become just the eighth team overall to win a best-of-five series after trailing 0-2.
Pinch hitter Collin Cowgill added a two-run single and Arizona’s bullpen held on after a less-than-crisp outing by starter Joe Saunders to put the tough-to-keep-down Diamondbacks in position to make history.
“We know we’re capable of scoring runs, so that was outstanding,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “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 levelheaded about it.”
Of the four opening-round playoff series, three are going to Game 5. Detroit visits the New York Yankees on Thursday night and St. Louis is at Philadelphia on Friday night. The only other time a trio of division matchups went the distance was 2001, the year Arizona won the World Series.
Milwaukee didn’t expect to be in this position after winning the first two games handily. After two desert duds, the Brewers head back home hoping to regain momentum and close out their first postseason series since making it to the 1982 World Series.
“If you want to get to the World Series you’ve got to play great baseball and unfortunately we didn’t do that the last couple of games,” Brewers third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. said. “We go home – we do love playing at home.”
The NL West-champion Diamondbacks punctuated their worst-to-first finish with grand slams in their final two home games of the regular season, then kept slamming ’em at Chase Field in the playoffs.
Paul Goldschmidt was the star in Game 3, becoming the third rookie ever to hit a grand slam in the playoffs. He had the crowd buzzing when he strode to the plate against Wolf with the bases loaded in the first inning. He couldn’t come through – Wolf struck him out looking.
Roberts sure did, though, lining his second grand slam in four home games over the wall in left. The shot had the crowd roaring and got his teammates out of the dugout doing “The Snake.”
Roberts’ drive made Arizona the first team in major league history to hit grand slams in four straight home games (regular and postseason), according to STATS LLC and the SABR home run log.
“In that situation, I just wanted to get on base, not try do anything too much,” Roberts said. “Just see a pitch in that I could drive and put a pretty good swing on it.”
Young followed with a shot to give the Diamondbacks back-to-back homers for the first time in their postseason history, then celebrated with a snake strike after putting Arizona up 5-1.
Wolf, 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in two starts against Arizona during the regular season, lasted just two more innings after allowing seven runs on eight hits.
“My command was horrible today,” Wolf said. “The curveball I couldn’t throw for strikes at all, so that put me in a corner. I think every hitter I got behind in the count. When you do that, it’s hard to be successful.”
Hard for his team, too.
Cowgill pushed Arizona up 7-3 with a two-run single in the third, Hill hit his solo homer in the sixth and Young lifted a two-run shot in the seventh.
Carlos Gomez hit a two-run homer off David Hernandez in the eighth to cut Arizona’s lead to 10-6, but it was too late for the Brewers – thanks to “The Snake.”
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