Carroll, Ortiz rise to occasion
Lesser-used players play key rolls in amazing win
DENVER -- Rockies utility man Jamey Carroll's sidelight is as a caricature artist whose work appears in the club's game program, and has even been commissioned by opponents. He did one this season of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader.
Carroll put together a simple masterpiece at Hoffman's expense Monday night -- the sacrifice fly for the winning run in the bottom of the 13th, giving the Rockies a 9-8 victory in the National League Wild Card tiebreaker, and sending them to the NL Division Series against the Phillies.
Carroll and winning pitcher Ramon Ortiz (1-0, 5-4 counting his time with the Twins before an Aug. 15 trade) were able, with a few strokes, to turn out a masterpiece, after posting some ugly stats previously. They made good on manager Clint Hurdle's pregame prediction that the Rockies would win with unexpected contributors.
There had been little artistic about Carroll's offensive performance this season. After hitting .300 in 2006 and being rewarded with a two-year, $4 million contract, Carroll dipped to .225 this season. But he waited for a chance to do something special, albeit simple, with the bat.
He nearly tripped with the glove, his forte. Carroll committed a throwing error in the 11th, but started a double play to end it.
"You hope for it," said Carroll, who entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh and went 1-for-2. "You hope to have a chance to redeem yourself. I made the error and I was hoping to have a chance to redeem myself there, and I got the opportunity.
"I was in some situations that I hadn't been in the last month of the season, because I was being hit for, but I'm just thankful they gave me the opportunity."
At least Carroll has been used regularly to pinch-run and for defensive purposes. Ortiz, 34, had done his throwing and running before games. He had not been used in a game since Sept. 15. Even after his perfect inning with one strikeout Monday, he has a 7.62 ERA in 10 appearances with the Rockies.
However, Ortiz pitched in the playoffs for the Angels in 2002 and 2004, and remained at the ready.
"I have thrown a lot of bullpens with my coaches, working on things," Ortiz said. "I know how to pitch in big games. That's what I wanted to do tonight.
"I thanked God, I don't know, 100 times. The thing is I stayed positive every day and did my routine. I'm very happy."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.