In the end, it may take several big guns to extricate the Diamondbacks out of their season-long doldrums.
A glimpse of a certain level of heroics was demonstrated Monday night.
Down by two in the sixth inning, RBI singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero and an RBI double from Martin Prado forged a lead and A. J. Pollock delivered the knock-out punch..
Pollock capped a 3-for-5 night with his first career walk-off home run and the Diamondbacks defeated the San Diego Padres, 7-5 before a Memorial Day crowd of 35,580 in Chase Field.
For the game-winner, Pollock hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Kevin Quackenbush with two outs in the ninth just to the right of the 407 sign in center field and above the yellow line. That stripe designates whether the ball is a home run or in play.
In the bottom of the ninth, Cliff Pennington was hit by a pitched ball with one out and pinch hitter Eric Chavez grounded into a force out. With Ender Inciarte running for Chavez, Pollock said he simply want to put one between the outfielders and knew with Inciarte’s speed, the game would likely end.
“I was just looking to hit the ball in the gap,” Pollock said. “First pitch, fast ball. I wanted to be aggressive and knew if I put in play, Ender would have a good chance to score.”
Over the first two months of this season, the come-from-behind victory was a key dimension missing. The effort Monday night characterized the notion that the D-backs still retain a sense of resiliency and their collective spirit remains high.
Down 4-2 in the sixth, the Diamondbacks rallied for three to take a 5-4 lead. Yet, the Padres responded to tie the game on back-to-back doubles from pinch hitter Tommy Medica and Everth Cabrera, both with two outs in the seventh.
That set the stage for Pollock’s bomb and now his .294 season batting average (in games through Monday) is just behind club-leader Goldschmidt, who’s hitting .304 after Monday’s game.
The fact that Pollock managed to get his first career, walk-off home run truly did not phase manager Kirk Gibson.
“What cares who does it,” the manager dead-panned after the game. “Going into the ninth inning, we had a good feeling in the dugout. Everyone kept saying we’ll walk them off and overall, we played a solid baseball game.”
After watching a 2-0 lead evaporate as a result of San Diego home runs from Yonder Alonso (a solo shot in the fourth) and a three run bomb from lead-off hitter Cabrera also in the fourth, the Diamondbacks picked themselves off the mat.
That’s when Arizona responded and eventually began this seven-game home stand with a broad smile on their collective faces.
IMPACT IN THE BULLPEN
With quality efforts, reliever Evan Marshall is putting our fires and turning heads.
Prior to Monday’s game with San Diego, Marshall appeared in eight games and teams have yet to score an earned run on the 24-year-old native of Sunnyvale, Calif. That equates to a 0.00 ERA and a growing dependability to retire the opposition in clutch situations.
“(Marshall) has the ability to deliver the big pitch in a key situation,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Monday’s game. “Plus, he can slow down a game and that’s an advantage for any reliever.”
Though impressive in spring training, Marshall was sent to Triple-A Reno as one of the final cuts before the season opener but eventually called up to the majors on May 6. That’s when reliever J. J. Putz (right forearm tightness) was placed on the disabled list.
Since, Marshall has allowed six hits and two unearned runs in 8 2/3 innings.
“When he went to Reno, he didn’t complain or pout,” Gibson added. “He went down to work on a few things and he’s just maturing into a major league pitcher. It’s a credit to him for what’s happened.”
WORTH NOTING …
The announced attendance of 35,580 on Memorial Day Monday was the fourth largest crowd of the season.
For Monday‘s game, the D-backs had a walk-up crowd of 5,563 and that’s the largest walk-up since an August 30, 2008 contest against the Dodgers