PHOENIX — Josh Collmenter reached into his locker stall and pulled out the black T-shirt with red lettering that he has designed and produced: Paul Goldschmidt, America’s First Baseman.
The shirt could find its way into mass production if Goldschmidt continues to hit the way he has been.
America’s first baseman almost hit one to the moon Tuesday, drilling a home run off the batter’s eye at Chase Field on the second pitch he saw leading off the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over Miami, helping the D-backs break a season-long four-game losing streak.
Goldschmidt has 17 home runs, a National League-high 62 RBI and a certain invitation to the All-Star Game exactly four weeks hence.
And, now, a T-shirt.
“When you think about the Diamondbacks, you think about ‘Goldy,’ ” Martin Prado said.
The shirt is a tribute to Goldschmidt’s guy-next-door image and his Texas roots. We all know relievers have a lot of time to plot while in the bullpen, and Collmenter came up with a T-shirt earlier this season that reads “Relievers are people, too.”
He saw in Goldschmidt a natural fit.
“We thought ‘Goldy’ should have a shirt, with the start of the season he was off to. Not only hitting home runs, but hitting big clutch home runs,” Collmenter said.
One thing led to another …
“Dallas was America’s Team, and he’s from Texas,” Collmenter said. “So, America’s first baseman. He’s a square-jawed straight shooter. He kind of embodies what you would think of America. So we thought it was appropriate. A little Texas, a little America, and all pieced together.”
Goldschmidt, a modest man who would much rather deflect praise than field it, is rolling with it.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “Guys like to have fun, mix it up a little bit. If it’s not that, it will be something else with somebody else. If guys like it, it is fine with me.”
Goldschmidt has carried the D-backs’ offense this season, and the team seems to ride his wave, up and down. He was in a 4-for-39 funk entering the Miami series Monday, although it would be hard to convince the Marlins after his two homers and three of the D-backs’ five RBI in the first two games.
The skid did not faze Goldschmidt. A guy who leads the NL in RBI ratio (one every 4.2 at-bats), is third in home runs and is tied for fourth with 34 extra-base hits is not easily knocked off his game.
“Obviously the results weren’t there, but I was hitting some balls hard and having pretty good at-bats,” he said. “I just wanted to stick with what I’ve been telling myself all year and just try to keep having good at-bats and not focus on the results.
“Its the same thing when you are going good. Just try to get a good pitch to hit, hit it hard and find some holes. It is all part of it. We all know there are going to be ups and downs, results-wise. I was swinging at the right pitches for the most part. No one is going to be perfect out there. Just missed some balls. Hit some right at people. Then obviously guys make good pitches as well.
“You try not to get too frustrated and try to stick with the approach that has worked.”
Goldschmidt has taken to the No. 3 hole in the order so well since being moved into that spot following Aaron Hill’s injury in mid-April that he seems to be locked in there for the rest of the season, much like manager Kirk Gibson kept Justin Upton there in his last several seasons.
Goldschmidt’s game-winner Tuesday was his second walk-off hit of the season, following a single to right field that beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 14. Miami reliever Chad Qualls missed outside with a first-pitch fastball Tuesday, and Goldschmidt was prepared for the second.
It made a winner of David Hernandez, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, and kept the D-backs (38-33) in first place in the tight NL West as the midway point of the season approaches.
“Any way you can win,” Goldschmidt said. “Walk-off. Blowout. Come-from-behind. Guys are just playing hard ’til the end trying to win games.”
America’s first baseman has had a lot to do with it.