Tag:Matt Williams
Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 1:26 am
 

Instant Reaction: Diamondbacks force Game 5

Ryan Roberts

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Hero: In such a jam-packed game, it's easy to overlook something that happened in the first inning, but from the moment the ball left Ryan Roberts' bat with two outs in the first inning, the Brewers were playing catchup. It was Roberts' only hit of the night, but when you can drive in four runs with one hit -- especially in the first -- you've had a pretty good night.

MIL-ARI NLDS Game 4

Goat: Brewers starter Randy Wolf not only gave up Reynolds' grand slam in the first, he also gave up a homer to Chris Young right after Reynolds' blast. Wolf's offense kept him in the game, scoring runs in the second and third to make it 5-3, but then the Brewers left-hander gave up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Collin Cowgill in the third to return Arizona's lead to four. Wolf's final line: three innings, eight hits, seven earned runs, three walks, two strikeouts and two homers. 

Turning point: In the first inning of Game 1, Arizona third base coach Matt Williams sent Willie Bloomquist on a single to the outfield and the Diamondback shortstop was thrown out at the plate, killing the Diamondbacks' momentum and their only real shot at Yovani Gallardo. On Wednesday, Williams threw up the stop sign for Bloomquist on a single to right by Miguel Montero. Two batters later, the conservative call paid off as Roberts blasted the grand slam.

It was over when … It seems odd for a scoring play for the losing team to occupy this spot, but when Corey Hart's drive in the sixth inning stayed in the park, it seemed like some air was let out of the Brewers' balloon. Hart's drive to left-center was corralled by Gerardo Parra, allowing Yuniesky Betancourt to score, making it 7-4. But a single run was a disappointment after Hart crushed Bryan Shaw's pitch. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a fielder's choice to end the inning with two on and Ryan Braun in the on-deck circle.

Next: Just like the other NLDS matchup, this one's going the distance, and Arizona's Cy Young candidate, Ian Kennedy, will get another shot at the Brewers and Gallardo. Gallardo was dominant in a 4-1 Game 1 victory in Milwaukee. Gallardo allowed just four hits and struck out nine Diamondback batters in the win, while Kennedy gave up four runs on eight hits.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 10:28 pm
 

This time Roberts slams Brewers

Ryan Roberts

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It seemed like the perfect opportunity -- the Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt up with the bases loaded once again. He couldn't come through -- but Ryan Roberts did.

For the fourth straight game at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks hit a grand slam, and for the second time in those four games it was Roberts, giving the Arizona a 4-1 lead in the first-inning. Chris Young followed with a solo homer to give Arizona a 5-1 lead after one.

That's a pretty good sign for the Diamondbacks, who were 83-8 this season when leading by two or more runs.

The Diamondbacks became just the fifth team in Major League history to hit two grand slams in one playoff series and the first since the 1977 Dodgers to do it in back-to-back games.

On Wednesday, Arizona's Willie Bloomquist singled to start the inning before Aaron Hill popped up, Justin Upton walked and Miguel Montero singled. However, unlike Game 1 when the Diamondbacks were aggressive in sending Bloomquist to the plate, third base coach Matt Williams held him up to leave the bases loaded with one out and Goldschmidt, the hero of Game 3, came to the plate.

Goldschmidt was starting at first in the place of Lyle Overbay despite hitting just .162/.279/.378 against lefties. But he was coming off a good game and manager Kirk Gibson put him in the lineup against Randy Wolf. It was the perfect setup to the perfect story, except he looked at a 1-2 pitch low and inside that home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called for the third strike.

Wolf got no such help from Dreckman or anyone else when he tried to throw a 2-1 changeup past Reynolds, who hit it just to the fair side of the left-field foul pole for the Diamondbacks' fourth grand slam in as many home games. Roberts also hit the walk-off grand slam on the penultimate day of the season.

The Diamondbacks had six grand slams during the season, including one in each of the last two games of the season. But it's not just home runs when the Diamondbacks have the bases loaded, as a team Arizona hit .387/.421/.649 with bases loaded during the regular season.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 6:28 pm
 

D-Backs aggressiveness backfires in Game 1

Kirk Gibson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

All year long, the Diamondbacks were lauded for their aggressiveness. The team, it was said, was a reflection of its manager, Kirk Gibson.

Gibson was not only a great baseball player, but he was also an All-American football player at Michigan State. He was known as a player for his football mentality, and he's getting a similar reputation as a manager. The Diamondbacks were sixth in the big leagues in going first-to-third and also second in outs on the basepaths with 75. But on Saturday was he just two aggressive? Three times the Diamondbacks chose to be aggressive -- and all three times it backfired.

• As mentioned earlier, third-base coach Matt Williams sent Willie Bloomquist from second on Justin Upton's single in the first inning. Ryan Braun's throw to the plate was there in plenty of time.

• In the sixth inning, Yuniesky Betancourt tripled with two outs. Instead of intentionally walking catcher and No. 8 hitter Jonathan Lucroy to face the pitcher, Ian Kennedy went after Lucroy, a .265 hitter on the season. Lucroy blooped a pitch out of the zone into left field, allowing Betancourt to score and give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

• The the big decision, Gibson left in the hands of his starter. After Ryan Braun's two-out double in the seventh, Gibson went to the mound to deliberate with Kennedy about what the right-hander wanted to do with Prince Fielder. Kennedy told his manager he wanted to go after the Brewers' slugger. After a first-pitch fastball called for a strike, the TBS cameras got a great shot of Fielder smiling, realizing Kennedy was actually going to come after him. The next pitch was a curveball down and in that Brewer crushed for a two-run homer. Coincidentally, it harkened back to the 1984 World Series when Goose Gossage pitched to Gibson, who followed with a homer. In the postgame press conference, Jerry Hairston Jr., said he pointed out the similarities to Fielder after the game. Fielder, who grew up around the Tigers as the son of Cecil Fielder, said he thought of the same play, as well.

The Diamondbacks lost because of these three decisions, but they're also in the playoffs because of that same aggressiveness, that attitude that they need to push and a go for every run they can, but at the same time challenging other teams to beat them. It backfired today, it's just who they are. They'll likely take those chances again, and more often than not they'll work out.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Brewers-Diamondbacks series | 2011 playoffs

Video: Gibson discusses Kennedy's performance, decision to pitch to Fielder.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Pepper: Rites of spring


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every spring we get excited and pick winners for every division, count out teams, give a couple of other teams a free ride to the World Series and then sit back and are surprised when it doesn't happen.

The thing is, in baseball and in life, things change quickly and can change drastically.

Since the start of spring training games -- a little less than two weeks -- we've seen the Cardinals and Brewers lose some of their luster in the NL Central and the Phillies go from 110 wins to a struggling offense. We've even seen Carlos Zambrano be the calm, collected, sane member of the Cubs staff.

It's a rite of spring to project and to then react and overreact to anything we see on the field in these four weeks of meaningless games. And even when meaningful games start, there's enough time for injuries to happen, players to return and players to emerge to really know what's going to happen at the end.

And that's the fun of it. We don't know. You never know.

Sure, we can all expect a Red Sox-Phillies World Series, but there's no guarantee that'll happen. But if it does, I guarantee the road there will be completely different than we all imagined. And that's why this game is so great. You just never know, even if you think you know.

FEELING 'HITTERISH': Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper has been nearly as entertaining off the field as on it, as he coin a new term on Wednesday.

From the Washington Post:

"I feel really confident in myself. There's guys who are going to come after you. I want to hit right now. I'm feeling hitterish. I'm trying to go up there and get some hacks in. I'm not going to be here for a long time. I want to try to go up there and get my hits in."

So, what's the definition of "hitterish" Adam Kilgore asked?

"You wake up in the morning, and you're feeling hitterish, you're going to get a hit that day," Harper said. "That's what it is. If you get a hit every day, you're feeling hitterish, for sure. Wake and rake."

Harper had an RBI single in his only at-bat on Wednesday and is hitting .357 this spring (in 14 at-bats).

BELTRAN BETTER: Carlos Beltran won't play in a Grapefruit League until next week, but he does feel "a lot better" and has not been "shut down." He took batting practice and played catch on Wednesday.

The Mets are looking at Willie Harris and Scott Hairston in right field if Beltran can't go, and are also giving Lucas Duda extra work in right field to prepare him to play there if needed. (New York Daily News)

GARLAND GROUNDED: Dodgers starter Jon Garland is expected to start the season on the disabled list after leaving Wednesday's game with a  strained oblique muscle on his left side. He had an MRI on Wednesday and the team is expected to announce the results today.

The team has already lost starter Vicente Padilla for at least the first month of the season after surgery to repair a nerve below his right elbow.

The injuries mean the once-pitching rich Dodgers are down to four starters, although the team won't need a fifth starter until April 12. John Ely and Tim Redding would likely be candidates if Garland and Padilla are still sidelined. (Los Angeles Times)

GOOD ADVICE: Maybe the Dodgers could get that old guy to take the mound -- the one working with Ted Lilly on Wednesday. That guy was Sandy Koufax.

"He still loves to watch baseball, loves the art of pitching," Lilly told MLB.com. "You know he was great. But he's also smart, he's passionate about pitching, he understands and sees things. Sometimes they are little things.

"I enjoy learning about baseball and talking about it with someone like Sandy Koufax, and I enjoy talking about it with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland. There are always ways to move forward, even if they are small."

ZOOM GROUNDED: Tigers manager Jim Leyland is planning his bullpen to start the season without Joel Zumaya, who has been sidelined with pain in his surgically repaired right elbow this spring.

"I don't think right now, from within camp or by trade, that you can replace a healthy Joel Zumaya -- and I emphasize a healthy  Joel Zumaya," Leyland told MLB.com. "So you have to just keep looking and try to come up with somebody, mostly from within."

The Tigers did go out and spend a lot of money on a set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, so the path leading up to closer Jose Valverde isn't barren. Ryan Perry is expected to handle seventh-inning duties, which he was expected to shoulder with Zumaya.

SALAZAR IMPROVING: Several Braves players said they feared for the worst after minor league manager Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a foul ball on Wednesday. 

"A ball hit that hard, at that short a distance, can certainly kill somebody if it hits them in the right spot," Chipper Jones told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm so glad to hear that he's conscious and breathing on his own."

Salazar was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann and was airlifted to an Orlando hospital. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures, but did not suffer any brain damage. He was able to interact with family members later Wednesday night.

D-BACKS COACH BREAKS FOOT: While not nearly as serious as Salazar's injury, the timing does take away several light-hearted remarks I could make, but Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams may miss the beginning of the regular season with a broken foot.

Williams took a line drive off the foot while throwing soft toss to his son, Jake, on Monday. He's expected to miss two-to-three weeks. (Arizona Republic)

FIRST AT FIRST: Indians catcher Carlos Santana played his first-ever professional game at first base on Wednesday.

Santana cleanly fielded all nine chances he got at first and also had a double in the Indians' 9-2 loss to the Padres.

The Indians are searching for ways to keep his bat in the lineup and keep the young catcher healthy. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PILING ON: A New York  storage company is joining in on making jokes about the city's easiest target -- the Mets.

In an ad on the city's subways for Manhattan Mini Storage, it says, "Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?" (New York Times)

WHEN HIDEKI MET RICKY: New A's slugger Hideki Matsui has connected with team icon Rickey Henderson, whom Matsui admired growing up in Japan -- and the feeling is mutual. (MLB.com)

HIGH PRAISE: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says 19-year-old left-hander Manny Banuelos is the best pitching prospect he's ever seen.

"I like everything about him," Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com. "The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitchers, he has the ability to do that."

WHITE RETIRES: Former West Virginia and Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White has retired from baseball.

After White was released by the Dolphins last September, White signed a minor-league contract with the Royals and played in the Fall Instructional League. On Wednesday, the team said White did not report to spring training.

The Dolphins drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He was also drafted by the Angels, Reds and Yankees. (Associated Press)

RISING WATER: It's been raining here in Cincinnati, but check out just how much -- this photo from Reds assistant media relations director Jamie Ramsey gives you a big-picture view of just how high the water is on the banks of the Ohio River.

He adds another picture of flood gates set up around Great American Ball Park. (Better Off Red)


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