Diamondbacks 13, Cardinals 1
Each of Gonzalez’ milestone hits flashed on the center field video board, drawing a standing ovation from the Chase Field crowd of 25,299. As the cheers rained down, it was hard to believe that Gonzalez’ eight-year tenure in the desert may soon end.
Then Gonzalez banged out three hits, including a club-record 48th double, to help the Diamondbacks defeat St. Louis 13-1 Friday night. It was the 543rd double of his career, tying former San Diego star Tony Gwynn for 20th on the all-time list.
Afterwards, the 39-year-old left fielder made it clear he isn’t ready to walk away, though the Diamondbacks are unlikely to pick up a $10 million club option for 2007.
“I want to stay here,” Gonzalez said. “There’s no secret about that.
“I don’t have any control over it,” he said. “I had an awful first half, and hopefully the second half kind of dictates that I’ve still got a lot of gas left in the tank, and hopefully it carries over.”
Gonzalez’ record-setting double came on a big night for Arizona starter Livan Hernandez (11-12), who allowed two hits and one run in seven innings and won for only the second time in six starts since joining the Diamondbacks Aug. 7.
Hernandez said he expects Gonzalez to continue to produce for many years.
“I think Gonzo’s got four-five more years,” Hernandez said. “He looks like he’s 25 years old. He’s a great player and he’s still in good shape, so why not?”
Gonzalez’s future in Arizona has been called into question as the Diamondbacks have promoted several outfield prospects, including rookie right fielder Carlos Quentin, who had a career-high four hits Friday night. Another youngster, first baseman Conor Jackson, tied a career high with four RBIs as Arizona won for only the second time in 10 games.
Gonzalez has repeatedly said he will not retire after this year. Gonzalez, whose bloop single drove in the winning run in the 2001 World Series, has become the most popular player in the franchise’s nine-year history. But he won’t hesitate to sign elsewhere if he can be an everyday player.
“Arizona’s been my life for the last eight years,” Gonzalez said. “It’s kind of a strange situation that I’m going into because I’ve never been in that situation for the last six or seven years. But at the same time, I’m a grown-up, so you kind of take those in stride.”
Manager Bob Melvin presented Gonzalez with a framed photograph during the pregame ceremony. Melvin said he has enjoyed watching Gonzalez scale the all-time doubles list. The next target is Eddie Murray, who hit 560.
“When you’re talking about names like that—Babe Ruth and everybody else before it—it’s a huge feather in the cap of a guy who’s had an unbelievable career and is not stopping,” Melvin said. “He’s got some more game left in him.”
St. Louis starter Anthony Reyes (5-7) gave up seven runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
“It was one of those days where I really didn’t know where the ball was going,” said Reyes, a 24-year-old right-hander who has made 15 major league starts.
Hernandez, by contrast, was able to relax with a 7-1 lead after three innings. His only blemish was a solo homer by Juan Encarnacion in the second inning.
“I think any pitcher, when you get a lead like that, you go and feel more comfortable,” Hernandez said.
St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa said his players were trying to knock the ball out of the park.
“He’s smart enough to take advantage,” LaRussa said. “It looked to me that we had a whole bunch of swings where guys were elevating the ball trying to hit home runs.”
Preston Wilson singled in the seventh for St. Louis’ second hit.
Hernandez walked four men and struck out one.
Byrnes’ homer was his 22nd in 122 games. He hit 10 in 126 games for Oakland, Colorado and Baltimore a year ago. … The Chase Field roof was open on a 75-degree night in the desert. The last time the roof was open was June 10, when Arizona led the NL West by two games. The Diamondbacks came into Friday night in fourth place, nine games out of first.