06/26/2007 10:41 AM ET
Green is no stranger to big moments
By Hal Bock / MLBPLAYERS.com
Shawn Green is a professional hitter, the kind of guy who baseball people say could climb out of bed at midnight in the middle of winter and hit a couple of line drives with no trouble at all.
Shawn Green hits a walk-off home run against the Cardinals in the 11th inning Monday. (Ed Betz/AP)
He came into 2007 with a .282 career batting average and is less than 70 hits away from 2,000 for his career in 13 productive Major League seasons with the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Mets.
Green has driven in 100 runs four times and scored 100 runs four times, led the league in doubles, extra base hits and total bases, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in a distinguished career. He is one of just five players to hit 40 or more home runs in a season in both leagues. He hit 42 for Toronto in 1999 and 49 for Los Angeles in 2003.
His game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Cardinals on Monday night marked one of his more memorable games, however, it paled in comparison to one magical night with the Dodgers on May 23, 2002.
That was the game in which he became the 14th player in Major League history to hit four homers in a game.
Few hitters have been locked in the way Green was on that May night five years ago. Playing in Milwaukee, he went 6-for-6 with four homers, a double and a single, setting a Major League record with 19 total bases. It was, without question, the game of Shawn Green's life.
"I was surprised the way it happened," the low-key Green said. "Everything had to line up just right to get six at-bats, to be in a situation where I got at-bats and not walks."
Each home run is etched in Green's memory bank, from the first one in the second inning against Glendon Rusch to the last one with two outs in the ninth inning against Jose Cabrera. The two middle homers came against Brian Mallette.
He was in what hitters like to call "The Zone."
"At the plate, everything seemed to slow down," Green said. "It was a very relaxed time. I knew what I had to do each time I came up."
He doubled in his first at-bat against Rusch in the first inning. In the second inning, he faced Rusch again, this time with two men on base and two out. The left-hander tried to sneak a fastball past him. Green broke his bat with his first home run of the game.
He tagged Mallette for homers in both the fourth and fifth innings, each time with the bases empty.
"The first one was a slider down the middle, the second was a slider away that I hit to left field."
Green singled in his next at-bat and it did not look like he'd get any more swings. But Adrian Beltre took care of that problem with his only hit of the night.
"Beltre homered with two out in the ninth," Green said. "That got me up one more time."
This time he turned on a fastball down the middle from Cabrera for one more homer and a Major League record of 19 total bases for one game. He also tied Major League records with five extra-base hits and six runs scored.
And he wasn't through yet.
Green hit another homer the next day and then two more on the day after that. That gave him another record with seven homers over three consecutive games. It was a stretch of hitting he will never forget.
"It was crazy. Sometimes you feel so locked in that you go up to the plate anxious to take advantage of that moment," Green said. "Sometimes you can get overanxious. It's almost funny."
Not if you're in the other dugout, watching the power show.
Hal Bock is a freelance writer based in New York City.