Brewers' Lalli displays pop at crucial moment
APR 17, 2013 11:23p ET
Pinch hitting in the ninth inning with the bases loaded with one out in a tie game, Lalli jumped on the first pitch from Giants reliever Santiago Casilla and lofted a fly ball over the head of left fielder Gregor Blanco that easily scored pinch runner Josh Prince to give the Brewers a 4-3 win.
Lalli's first hit with the Brewers extended Milwaukee's winning streak to three games and gave the Brewers their first series win of the season.
"That one was fun," Lalli said. "If you come off the bench that's the situation you want to be in, a chance to win the game. That was definitely fun."
While his teammates had fun delivering a pie to his face during his television interview and Kyle Lohse stuck a bat close to his face to simulate a microphone while reporters surrounded Lalli in the locker room, his approach to his at-bat was all business.
Knowing there was a possibility he could pinch hit in the inning, Lalli went back into the clubhouse to study film on Casilla. What he learned was he had to be aggressive and jump on the first good pitch he saw, and Lalli did just that.
"You have to be (aggressive), especially in that situation," Lalli said. "He's an aggressive pitcher. I was definitely looking to swing early.
"You try to keep things as simple as possible. It sounds cliche, but you really do. You just try to keep things as simple as possible."
The preparation Lalli put into his at-bat and his approach at the plate in such a pressure-packed situation came as no surprise to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
"Lalli is a very smart guy," Roenicke said. "We saw that in spring training. He knew what he wanted to do in that situation."
The situation almost called for Martin Maldonado to get the at-bat instead of Lalli. Roenicke had Maldonado on deck to hit for Jim Henderson, waiting to see what manager Bruce Bochy would do.
When Maldonado was pulled back and Lalli was announced, Roenicke waited to see if Bochy would go to lefty Javier Lopez. He was prepared to burn Lalli and turn to Maldonado if Bochy made the move.
"The decision was what they were going to do with their match-ups," Roenicke said. "Were they going to let their left-hander pitch to our righty or go to the bullpen and bring in the left-hander? Then we have a decision whether we want to use two guys there. It's whatever he likes the match-up better."
Called up on April 8, Lalli, 29, was hitless in his first five at-bats with the Brewers. His Major League debut came last May when he appeared in six games with the Cubs, collecting two hits in 15 at-bats.
As a memento for his first game-winning hit in the big leagues, Lalli had the baseball sitting in his locker. Because the Giants just left the ball because the game was over, John Axford had an easy time finding it.
"He picked it up in the outfield on the way in," Lalli said.
Lalli joined Floyd Wicker (1970) as the only players in team history with a walkoff hit for their first Brewers hit, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
After falling to 2-8 on Saturday in St. Louis, the Brewers have responded with three straight wins. The way Milwaukee came back and won Sunday's extra innings game against the Cardinals seems to have lit a fire under a club that was searching for answers just a few days ago.
Not only have the Brewers been getting runners on base in their last three games, but they've got the timely hits needed to win games.
"Where we are and the personnel that we have out there, if we battle like this every game, I'm going to be happy," Roenicke said. "We are going to come out on the losing end of some of these, but with the well-pitched games, the bullpen is doing a great job the past couple days.
"Coming through like this with people in scoring position (is big). Even in the (eighth inning), Rickie (Weeks) comes up with a runner in scoring position after they walked 'Braunie' intentionally and Rickie hits a bullet to the left fielder. That's a great at-bat. I know it doesn't show up but it's a great at-bat. If we keep doing those things, we are going to be OK."
Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +