StaTuesday: Brewers pinch-hit grand slams
Ji-Man Choi made his final at-bat with the Milwaukee Brewers a memorable one.
Choi hit a pinch-hit grand slam at Philadelphia on Saturday, then was sent down to the minors as the Brewers to call up a starter for Sunday’s game. He was dealt to Tampa Bay later that day for infielder Brad Miller.
But what a way to go out.
Choi’s home run was just the seventh pinch-hit grand slam in Brewers’ history — however, three have occurred in the last four years. Interestingly, the first two came in Milwaukee losses but the next five have been Brewers victories.
Here’s a listing of all the pinch-hit grand slams followed by details on each:
|Joe Lahoud||8/22/1973||CAL||L, 5-4||Aurelio Monteagudo||9|
|Darrell Porter||9/9/1974||BAL||L, 6-5||Bob Reynolds||9|
|Don Money||7/3/1977||SEA||W, 10-3||Bill Laxton||9|
|Matt Mieske||9/3/1995||MIN||W, 7-6||Scott Watkins||7|
|Jason Rogers||9/27/2015||STL||W, 8-4||Trevor Rosenthal||9|
|Jonathan Villar||9/4/2016||PIT||W, 10-0||Juan Nicasio||6|
|Ji-Man Choi||6/9/2018||PHI||W, 12-3||Luis Garcia||6|
Lahoud had been slumping, with his batting average at .170, and benched (and also was already saying he wasn’t planning on being with the team next season). When the right-handed Montaegudo was brought into the game with the bases full in the ninth inning, Lahoud, a lefty, was sent up to hit for right-handed Ollie Brown. His grand slam gave Milwaukee a 5-4 lead, but Frank Robinson tied it with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the ninth and Leroy Stanton homered in the 10th to win it for the Angels. Said Lahoud: “I just wish we could have won the game. It would have been a boost to my morale. I’ve really been down in the dumps lately. It would have been a good thing, not just for me, but for the team. The other guys had to get on base for me to get the chance to drive them in.” Side note: Lahoud indeed was traded in the offseason — to the Angels.
Like Lahoud, Porter, a lefty, was brought in to face a new pitcher, right-hander Bob Reynolds, with one out in the ninth inning. Porter connected on Reynolds’ second pitch to tie the game at 5. The game would go into extra innings and Baltimore would score the go-ahead run in the 11th on a wild pitch. The Brewers loaded the bases in the 11th — Porter walking with two down to fill ’em up — when George Scott hit a long fly to center field which Paul Blair made a great catch on then ran into the wall and went through a door, which happened to be unlocked. Porter commented if the door had been locked, like it was supposed to, maybe Blair would have dropped the ball after hitting the fence. Side note: Porter hit a grand slam earlier in the season against the Orioles, this time in the first inning of a 9-4 win.
Money was mired in a slump, having gone hitless in his previous five games, lowering his average from .320 to .299. With Milwaukee up 6-1 in the ninth inning, Money was sent in to hit for Tim Johnson against Laxton with two down. “The pitcher probably figured I’d been sitting on the bench all day. And I’d been 0 for 20 on the road trip. He had walked three and didn’t want to walk another. So he gave me a fastball,” Money said. “After I hit it, I knew it would go just far enough.” Side note: The winning pitcher that day was FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Jerry Augustine — his 10th complete game of the season.
Speaking of slumping, Mieske was 1 for his last 17 when he was brought in to bat for Dave Nilsson in the seventh inning against the left-handed Watkins. The Brewers were trailing 4-3 at the time and then just held on for the victory. “It’s such an adrenaline rush to go in there after you’ve been sitting,” Mieske said. “You just have to try to go up there and keep it simple.” Side note: The winning pitcher for the Brewers was Rob Dibble — his only victory for Milwaukee and his last major-league win.
With St. Louis trying to lock down the NL Central, Milwaukee exploded for seven runs in the ninth inning, with Rogers’ grand slam providing the first four runs, erasing a 3-1 deficit. Rosenthal allowed three home runs all season, including one two days earlier against the Brewers. Said Rogers: “It’s always good to beat guys at the end and maybe try to ruin their season. It was special, a grand slam off a tough righty, one of the best in the game.” Side note: It was Rogers’ 13th hit as a pinch hitter and his final hit as a Brewer as well as his last major-league home run.
Villar was sitting out against Pittsburgh due to a sore knee but in the sixth inning he was used to hit for pitcher Chase Anderson with the Brewers holding a slight 1-0 lead against Nicasio, who had entered that inning for Steven Brault, who was hit for in the Pirates’ fifth. Villar’s home run broke the game open. Side note: Through Monday, this remains Villar’s only career grand slam.
Funny how things stay the same. Forty-five years ago Lahoud noted how his teammates had to be on base for him to hit a grand slam. Choi, after his first career grand slam, also thanked his teammates.
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) June 9, 2018
Well, now former teammates. But at least Choi made some Brewers history before he left.
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns