Despite past, Dodgers' Broxton wasn't intimidated by Phillies pinch-hitter Stairs

Posted: October 20, 2009

It's a white-knuckle, sweat-dripping matchup.

It's one that might happen again. For Joe Torre and Jonathan Broxton, it has to.

Broxton, the Dodgers' closer, last night faced veteran lefthanded pinch-hitter Matt Stairs with one out and a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Stairs, who homered off Broxton in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series last season.

This time, uh-uh. This time, Broxton gave Stairs nothing close. Stairs walked.

Carlos Ruiz was hit by the next pitch, a running fastball.

One out later, Jimmy Rollins doubled home the two runners on base and that was that, another Game 4 loss, another 3-1 lead for the Phillies in the best-of-seven series.

Will Torre hesitate to let Broxton face Stairs again?

"No," he said, firmly.

Expect a similar strategy if they meet again.

Broxton doesn't want his 99 mph fastballs coming anywhere near Stairs' lethal, 41-year-old bat, which managed just 20 hits (five homers) in 103 at-bats this season - though he did walk 16 times, second most among major league pinch-hitters.

Walking to first, Broxton figured, was better than watching Stairs jog around all four bases again.

"I wasn't going to give him anything down the middle," said Broxton. "I was going to keep it down, and hope he'd chase . . . You're not going to give it up to a guy coming off the bench and is a fastball hitter."

Broxton wasn't exactly scarred by Stairs' homer.

He enjoyed a spectacular season, the linchpin of a devastating bullpen, with 36 saves in 42 chances. He held opponents to a .165 average and struck out 114 hitters, both best among major-league relievers.

He has never watched Stairs' homer, he said.

It was put behind him, "the next day," he said.

You get the feeling he won't watch the walk, either.

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