The Diamondbacks have hit 56 home-runs with two outs in the ninth inning, since the first one during the inaugural game for the franchise, at Bank One Ballpark on March 31, 1998. In contrast to last night, that one was a largely-meaningless event: the score was 9-1 to the Rockies, when Karim Garcia took the first pitch he saw and deposited it in the left-field bleachers. The hurler for the Rockies in that game was some guy called Jerry DiPoto. Wonder what ever happened to him? :-)
In honor of Paul Goldschmidt's heroics last night, let's take a look at the other entries in the Diamondbacks' Late Late Show.
Curiously, blasts with two outs in the ninth are something that happen a lot more often on the road. Despite the reputation of Chase as a homer-happy haven, 41 of 56 such homers have come on the road, compared to only 15 in Phoenix. As you might expect, Coors Field (7) leads the way - we've not managed more than four anywhere else. The vast majority (45) have come off right-handed pitchers, but there's an even split between left- and right-handed batters. Last night's shot was Arizona's fourth in 2011, and we have some way to go to catch up on 2002 when there were eight of them. Most (11) have been on the first pitch, with seven on a full-count.
Stephen Drew leads all Diamondbacks with five, including one of the most exciting of all time - a two-run homer off Trevor Hoffman to win it in April 2007. Luis Gonzalez has four, and there are a quartet of Arizona batters who have hit three: Chris Young, Matt WIlliams, Eric Byrnes and Erubiel Durazo. Just two of the 56 were grand-slams. The first was by Damian Miller on August 26th, 1999 against the Marlins, but we were already 8-2 up there. More dramatic was Durazo's slam at Wrigley Field off Kyle Farnsworth on August 17th, 2002, as that broke a 2-2 tie. Six home-runs tied the game, and 11 put Arizona ahead - seven of those were walk-off shots.
Note that extra-inning home-runs with two outs are a somewhat different beast. However, for completeness, let's just discuss those too. We've had 13 of them - a couple by Gonzo - but it has been more than two seasons since the last time it was done. That was Mark Reynolds' 18th-inning shot off Josh Wilson in San Diego. It has been almost five years since the last walk-off extra-inning two-out homer from a Diamondback. That was delivered by Orlando Hudson in the 15th inning against the Dodgers, on August 25th, 2006.
Goldschmidt's shot yesterday was particularly stunning, because we were truly drinking at the Last Chance Salooon. There were not just two outs, we were also down to our last strike. It was the ninth time a Diamondback batter has hit a homer in such a situation - two outs in the ninth or later, trailing and with two strikes on him. While most of those didn't have any effect on the outcome, here's the full list. Those shown in bold, are ones that tied the game or better for Arizona
- May 12th, 1999: Jay Bell off Ugueth Urbina (MON), 1-2 count, 6-5 down [won 8-6]
- April 12th, 2001: Greg Colbrunn off Jeff Shaw (LAD), 3-2 count, 5-2 down [lost 5-4]
- September 6th, 2001: Matt Williams off Rob Nen (@SFG), 2-2 count, 9-3 down [lost 9-5]
- June 10th, 2002: Chris Donnels off Mike Stanton (@NYY), 3-2 count, 7-4 down [lost 7-5]
- April 18th, 2002: Steve Finley off Russ Springer (@STL), 3-2 count, 6-0 down [lost 6-3]
- September 28th, 2004: Alan Zinter off Brooks Kieschnick (MIL), 3-2 count, 8-7 down [won 9-8]
- August 14th, 2005: Chris Snyder off Horacio Ramirez (@ATL), 2-2 count, 13-6 down [lost 13-8]
- June 11th, 2008: Mark Reynolds off Billy Wagner (@NYM), 3-2 count, 3-0 down [lost 5-3]
- August 11th, 2011: Paul Goldschmidt off Mark Melancon (HOU), 2-2 count, 5-3 down [won 8-5]
As you can see, what Goldie did last night was very, very special. Only twice previously in team history, had a hitter homered and changed the final game outcome, when the D-backs were down to their last strike. Admittedly, both previous occasions were pretty special. In the May 1999 game, we came into the ninth 6-3 down. Andy Fox hit a two-run shot with no outs to bring us within one, before Bell's homer tied the game up. The team weren't finished, as after a Luis Gonzalez single, Matt WIlliams stepped to the plate and clubbed a 1-0 pitch out of the park, to give Arizona a five-run ninth on three long-balls, and a thoroughly unexpected victory.
If 2004 wasn't a great season, September that year did provide a highly-dramatic game against the Brewers. Arizona led 5-4 going into the ninth, but Greg Aquino couldn't close it out, coughing up three runs. However, Milwaukee closer Danny Kolb was little better, allowing two runs to tie the game at seven. After a scoreless tenth, the Brewers took the lead in the 11th on a Lyle Overbay RBI, and when our first two batters went down, it looked over for AZ. Not so fast: Alex Cintron singled, and Zinter - who'd come in during the top of the frame - walked the team off with his only home-run of the year. At +90%, it remains the most game-changing play ever by a Diamondback.
With a little help from Chris Young, Goldschmidt's homer certainly deserves to sit alongside those one. He has certainly shown a flair for the dramatic: a three-run shot to tie the first ever game at Salt River Fields, then getting his first homer in the major off a Cy Young winner in Tim Lincecum. Here's to many more.