LaHair's coaxed walk set table for winner
April, 24, 2012
By Bruce Levine
Bryan LaHair has had some big hits during his long professional career. However, his 12-pitch walk to begin the Chicago Cubs' come-from-behind 3-2 ninth-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals may be the team’s most important at-bat thus far this season.
AP Photo/Jim PrischingBryan LaHair, Tony Campana and Geovany Soto celebrate the Cubs' win on Monday.
LaHair was called upon to pinch hit with one out, nobody on base and the Cubs trailing 2-1. The job at hand was to battle Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who in 21 innings had never given up an earned run to Chicago.
“I was just trying to get on base and have a good at bat,” LaHair said. “It was a tough at-bat. He was throwing 98 -99 mph. I was just up there battling, trying to get on base.”
LaHair walked and then Geovany Soto followed suit to set the stage for Joe Mather's walk-off game-winning base hit. Mather tipped his hat to his patient teammates.
“Closers don’t usually throw that many pitches,” Mather said of Motte’s 31 in the ninth. “Bryan made him throw 12 pitches and that is way more work than he is used to having. If he doesn’t have that at-bat, and Geo, then we don’t get to the point where he leaves [a pitch] up.”
LaHair has been the consummate hard worker and overachiever since being named the PCL’s Most Valuable Player last year at age 28. His next goal is to convince manager Dale Sveum that he can hit left-handed pitching. LaHair is hitting .433 against right-handers but is 0-for-6 facing southpaws.
“He has had some good at-bats all year long against right-handed pitching,” Sveum said. “I think that kind of at-bat can springboard you into even better at-bats.”