D-backs Force Game 5 with Another Slam

D-backs Force Game 5 with Another Slam

After Kirk Gibson took some heat for his management decisions earlier in the NLDS, the Arizona Diamondbacks skipper made all the right moves in a 10-6 Game 4 victory. From pinch-hitting for his starter in the third innings with a lead to using a rookie right-hander to pitch to Corey Hart with the game on the line, Gibby was golden.

Kirk Gibson made only one lineup change from the one that scored eight runs in Game 3 of the NLDS, and that was to swap Chris Young with Ryan Roberts in the 6th and 7th spots.  Those two players combined for four hits, four runs scored, three homers, and seven RBI in Game 4, leading to an even bigger offensive output for the team.

The last time Ryan Roberts hit a grand slam, he ripped his jersey off as he got to home plate to celebrate the Diamondbacks' six-run, two-out rally in a 7-6 walk-off victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 27. His slam in the first inning eight days later got the D-backs off to a 5-1 lead en route to a 10-6 victory in Game 4 of the NLDS, tying the series at two and forcing a final game Friday in Milwaukee.

Roberts said his bases-loaded approach is simple.

"Breathe and relax. I think that's the main thing," he said. "You don't want to get up too high, because if you do you might get out of your game plan. Just try to stay calm and put a nice easy swing on it and not try to do too much."

Roberts was 6-of-13 with a homer against Milwaukee left-hander Randy Wolf prior to the game, and it took him only four pitches to get to .500.

Roberts hit a 2-1 fastball into the D-backs' bullpen down the left-field line for a 4-1 lead, and Chris Young followed with the first of his two home runs to make it 5-1 after one inning. The Brewers were never closer than two after that. At the same time, Roberts said he does not delve too deeply into statistics.

"I don't even look at that stuff anymore," insisted Roberts.  "I used to look at that all the time, but you think too much into things or you ride too high. With our lineup, you could put anybody anywhere. As long as you are in there, anything could happen."

SNAKE BYTES

--CF Chris Young had two home runs and drove in three runs, becoming the franchise's career postseason leader with five home runs. He has three in this series, also hitting one in Game 2, and he had two in the D-backs' three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the 2007 NLDS. "I told him before the game he was my pick to click," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.

--3B Ryan Roberts, moved up from seventh to sixth in the batting order, hit his second grand slam home run in eight games to give the D-backs a 4-1 lead in the first inning. Roberts also had a walk-off slam to cap a two-out, six-run 10th-inning rally for a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 27. He took his jersey off as he hit home plate that time. "That was a one-time thing," Roberts said with a laugh. "Only on walk-offs."

--OF Collin Cowgill and RHP Bryan Shaw followed 1B Paul Goldschmidt and RHP Josh Collmenter as rookies who played key roles in a Diamondback playoff victory.  Cowgill had a two-run, pinch-hit single in the third to give the D-backs a four-run cushion that they would need.  He was only 1-for-9 as a pinch-hitter during the regular season, but hit .275 against southpaws like Randy Wolf.

Shaw entered the game in the sixth with the bases loaded, one out, and the tying run at home plate in the left-handed hitting Corey Hart.  Shaw limited left-handers to a .267 slugging average in the regular season thanks to a fastball that tails away from lefties, and escaped the inning with only one run of damage.  He went 1.2 hitless and walkless innings in total.

--RHP Micah Owings got his first postseason victory in two appearances with two scoreless innings Wednesday, when he replaced starter LHP Joe Saunders in the fourth inning. Owings suffered a loss in Game 4 of the 2007 NLCS against Colorado. Owings gave up two hits but stranded two runners on second. The Brewers were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

--C Miguel Montero had three hits, and after his last one, a single in the eighth, he looked into the D-backs dugout and did the "snake" sign, holding his right forearm upright and flexing his wrist to simulate a snake strike. "Just dropped a little snake," Montero said of the gesture, the D-backs' answer to the Brewers' "beast mode" pose. "That's all it takes sometimes. The little ones bite just like the big ones sometimes. We have to get one more bite."

--The D-backs set a franchise postseason game record with four homers -- CF Chris Young had two, 3B Ryan Roberts had one, and 2B Aaron Hill had one. The previous record was three, hit in Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the D-backs' three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the 2007 NLCS. Young had one of those homers, too.

DIAMOND STAT: 4 -- Consecutive home games in which the D-backs have hit a grand slam, the final two in the regular season and the first two in playoffs.

QUOTABLE: "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 Gonzo [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." -- OF Chris Young, on becoming the franchise leader in postseason home runs.


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