We start the Pitties for 2007 with the award for Play of the Year. This is the single most remarkable, memorable or just plain cool moment of the season, and will be awarded to the nominee which receives the most votes over the next week. There is only one award, and this can be given to either an offensive or defensive play, but an honorary mention will be made of the top-scoring play in the other category. The nominees, four in each category, can be found below, together with a link to the mlb.com report on the game [which opens in a new window]. There, you can read about the context of each play in terms of the game and season, while video of the play can also be found, for your consideration.
- Offensive Play
Stephen Drew, walk-off homer off Hoffman, Apr 25 vs SDG
It's not often you see a hitting coach jumping up and down when after his batters strike out 18 times in a game, but like a magic elixir, Drew's homer chased away the frustration as well as the D-backs six-game losing streak. "It's a good feeling to lift the team when we're kind of struggling like this," Drew said. "We keep battling. We hit balls hard and it's right at people right now, so sooner or later, it's going to start falling."
Tony Clark, game-tying grand slam, May 19 vs PIT
Then Clark got a heater that he didn't miss, depositing it into the seats in right-center to cap the five-run inning and tie the game at 7. "It's a situation where guys put together a rally earlier in the inning, and I'm simply trying to put the bat on the ball and keep the line moving," Clark said. "So I wasn't trying to do anything extra special. I was fortunate enough to get into a count where obviously he doesn't want to walk a run in, and I put a good swing on the ball."
Jeff Salazar, three-run homer, Sep 10 vs SFG
"I was just looking for a good pitch the whole time," Salazar said. "He missed up with a couple of fastballs and then he got into a situation where there were a couple of guys on -- he had to challenge me at some point -- so he threw a fastball. Maybe he thought I was taking, but in that situation, I'm not going to take too often. Luckily, it caught the barrel, and as hard as it is to hit home runs here, I'm still really surprised. I can't believe it got out."
Chris Young, three-run homer, Oct 4 vs CHC
The big blow was a three-run homer by rookie Chris Young on a 3-2 pitch from Cubs starter Ted Lilly, who was so frustrated by the result that he removed his glove and fired it straight into the ground as the ball cleared the left-field fence. "It's exciting to hit a homer any time, but to do it in the playoffs with 48,000 fans out there yelling, you feel like you're floating on air when you're running the bases," Young said. "You see your teammates in the dugout ready to congratulate you. There's no feeling like it."
Brandon Lyon, covers 3B in the tenth, June 5th vs. SFG
Ray Durham blooped a ball to left that went in and out of left fielder Eric Byrnes' glove in a diving attempt to make the play. Aurilia held up while waiting to see if Byrnes would catch the ball before breaking for third. Lyon noticed there was no one covering third base on the play and sprinted there to receive a throw from Byrnes. Lyon's body reached third before Aurilia, blocking him from reaching the bag and giving him time to tag the runner for the second out of the inning. "I saw the ball loose and nobody at third, I just started running there, and after that it was all reaction."
Jeff Salazar, leap at the wall, July 13 vs SDG
Salazar, though, ran back to the wall, jumped and planted his left foot halfway up the chain link fence and pushed off to give himself some extra reach as he caught the ball and brought it back over the fence. "A lot of times, you go back there and the ball is 30 rows deep and it's just kind of a courtesy runback. I went back there and you could tell that maybe I had a shot at it. I've tried hundreds of times in my career and came up empty a lot and knocked them over a couple of times. That one hit the mitt and stuck. I had to check to make sure it was in there."
Chris Young, robs Mike Cameron of a slam, Aug 1 vs SDG
Young called the play one of the top three catches he's ever made, the best when considering the circumstances of it being a two-out catch with the bases loaded. Byrnes said, "Once I saw him jump, it appeared to me he was going to get there, and he got there, and that right there was the game-changer. As great as this game was, that ball goes over the fence right there, we probably do not win that game."
Augie Ojeda's juggle catch, Oct 14 vs COL