Performer of the Game: D-backs' Goldschmidt
Rookie slugger drives in five, clobbers grand slam in Game 3 win
PHOENIX -- The chant began to rise through Chase Field and increase with each pitch as the Brewers intentionally walked Miguel Montero in the fifth inning Tuesday.
The home fans were eagerly anticipating what was about to unfold once Montero went to first to load the bases, and their chant would only get louder in a few moments.
"Goldschmidt! Goldschmidt! Goldschmidt!"
The chant was ringing in Paul Goldschmidt's ears, as well as anyone else's, as the D-backs' powerful rookie first baseman prepared for the biggest at-bat of his short Major League career.
"It was pretty cool. I'd never heard that before," he said, with a big smile in a winning D-backs clubhouse after Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Brewers.
He'd never heard such a roar after one of his homers, either -- and he has had plenty of opportunities this year, with 30 in the Minor Leagues and then another eight with the D-backs after his callup on Aug. 1.
Goldschmidt unleashed his smooth right-handed swing on a 1-and-2 pitch from Brewers starter Shaun Marcum for a grand slam that put the D-backs well on their way to an 8-1 victory that put them on the board in the best-of-five series, delivering the ball to the opposite field in impressive fashion.
The chant continued, all the way through another first: a curtain call.
"Goldschmidt! Goldschmidt! Goldschmidt!"
Spin to Win
It was only the second grand slam by a rookie in postseason play in the past 14 years, matching the one by the Yankees' Ricky Ledee in the 1999 World Series. Goldschmidt wound up with five RBIs, matching a D-backs postseason record.
For the young man of the hour, it was an opportunity he'd had before -- and while he actually went 2-for-6 with five RBIs in those situations in the regular season, it was evident this is the type of hitter who remembers the ones he didn't get.
"They've walked Miggy [Montero] plenty of times and I haven't come through, and luckily today it was good timing with some guys on base," Goldschmidt said.
The timing couldn't have been better, and you couldn't find anyone in the D-backs clubhouse who was surprised that the 24-year-old first baseman delivered such a tremendous clout at such a crucial time.
After all, this is the guy who hit his first homer off Giants ace Tim Lincecum in his second game in the big leagues. He also had a two-run homer off the Phillies' Cliff Lee to account for the only runs scored off Lee in the month of August.
"The guy hits the ball a long way," says teammate Ryan Roberts. "He's hit balls to the opposite field over 400 feet before. Any time it comes off his bat, it's going to go out or hit off the wall. It's just a good swing with a lot of power."
Another first baseman with a sweet swing, his from the left side, veteran Lyle Overbay has been just as impressed with the rookie out of Texas State who made such a splash in 2011. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Goldschmidt's right-handed stroke has a big future written all over it.
"It's a real short and real powerful, too," Overbay said. "You can see that when he goes the other way, it just has that extra carry on it. When you can hit those balls out of the ballpark, you don't have to stand there and think about pulling the ball all the time. It's a good luxury to have.
"He's got a good frame of mind, too. We talked about the pitcher today, and he said he was going to think away. He has a really good approach to hitting."
It's an approach that developed through Goldschmidt's days at Texas State, where he hit only one homer as a freshman after sustaining a broken hand, then pumped up bigger numbers after that. What he did at Double-A Mobile this season -- or at least through the first four months -- was beyond compare, as his 30 homers and 94 RBIs earned him national Minor League Player of the Year honors.
With such an amazing start to the season at Mobile, it seemed only a matter of time before he'd be swinging for the fences in the Majors. And, within a month of playing in the Futures Game in the ballpark he now calls home, that's exactly where he was.
"I knew there was a possibility, but it's not something I knew was going to happen," said Goldschmidt. "I was just taking it day by day and, to be honest, I didn't really think about it because I didn't want to be looking ahead for an opportunity that may or may not happen. I just tried to keep improving and help our team win when I was there, and I've been sticking with the same approach here."
Right up to an incredible blast Tuesday night on the October stage.
It was an example of the type of powerful presence that could be sticking around in Arizona for a long time.
"If he just stays with what he's got, he can do a lot of things," Overbay said. "Obviously, he's going to have to make adjustments and get pitchers figured out as they make adjustments on him. He's already done that this year, so he's really taking care of that quickly."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.