Willingham's night one to remember
Slugger is first player since '03 to hit two slams in a game
MILWAUKEE -- After the Nationals' 14-6 victory over the Brewers on Monday night, outfielder Josh Willingham checked his cell phone and realized that he had 20 text messages.
Most of them came from family and friends, who congratulated him for having the best game of his career. He went 3-for-5, including two grand slams. Willingham became the 13th player in Major League history to hit two grand slams in a game and tied a franchise record with eight RBIs.
"That was a special night and one I will never forget," Willingham said after the game. "You don't get the opportunity to do that many times, much less come through in both situations."
In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and the score tied at 2, Willingham took an 0-1 pitch from Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan and hit the ball over the left-field wall to give Washington a 6-2 lead.
"I tell you, he had a good day," Suppan said. "As far as the at-bat off me, I was trying to throw a sinker down and away and it ran in the middle. Obviously, he drove the ball very well today."
An inning later, reliever Mark DiFelice was on the mound, when Willingham hit his second grand slam of the night to give Washington a 13-5 lead.
"We got a scouting report on him, but I've never seen him and I missed the first slider or cutter that he threw me, so I thought it was coming again and he threw it again," Willingham said. "I got some good extension on it and hit it out."
The last player to hit two grand slams in a game was Red Sox infielder Bill Mueller, who did the trick on July 29, 2003. Mueller, like Willingham, hit his slams in consecutive innings. Willingham became the sixth to hit slams in successive frames.
Day to remember
|Josh Willingham became the 13th player in Major League history to slug two grand slams in the same game.|
|Tony Lazzeri||Yankees||5/24/1936||2nd, 5th|
|Jim Tabor||Red Sox||7/4/1939||3rd, 6th|
|Rudy York||Red Sox||7/27/1946||2nd, 5th|
|Jim Gentile||Orioles||5/9/1961||1st, 2nd|
|Tony Cloninger||Braves||4/3/1966||1st, 4th|
|Jim Northrup||Tigers||6/24/1968||5th, 6th|
|Frank Robinson||Orioles||6/26/1970||5th, 6th|
|Robin Ventura||White Sox||9/4/1995||4th, 5th|
|Chris Hoiles||Orioles||8/14/1998||3rd, 8th|
|Fernando Tatis||Cardinals||4/23/1999||Both in 3rd|
|Nomar Garciaparra||Red Sox||5/10/1999||1st, 8th|
|Bill Mueller||Red Sox||7/29/2003||7th, 8th|
|Josh Willingham||Nationals||7/27/2009||6th, 7th|
The last National League player to pull it off was then-Cardinals third baseman Fernando Tatis on April 23, 1999, against the Dodgers. Tatis is the only player in history to hit a pair of slams in the same inning. Willingham is just the third National Leaguer to pull off the feat.
"Everything has to be lined up right for you. You have to be seeing the ball good, hitting the ball good. Your teammates have to be on base for you all night," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "You have to have things going your way, and he did. He is a very good hitter. He is such a pro.
"He has really been [a good hitter] for three months straight with the exception of coming out of the All-Star break, which cooled him off for about a week. He has cranked it back up again."
Adam Dunn scored ahead of Willingham on both grand slams, and Dunn was amazed that Willingham accomplished a rare feat.
"Often times, you don't see the bases loaded twice for the same guy in the same game, much less a guy hitting two grand slams," Dunn said. "That's pretty amazing. That hasn't been done many times."
Willingham has been doing the job for most of the season. Since May 5, he is hitting .326 with 15 home runs with 37 RBIs. Not bad for a guy who started the season on the bench.
"Reps are key," Willingham said. "In April, I wasn't getting a whole lot of reps. You have to get in there and get consistent at-bats. I've been able to do that. I always felt if I was able to get my at-bats, my numbers would be there at the end of the year. Hopefully, I will continue to swing the bat well."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.