Utility man Marwin Gonzalez played 65 games for the Boise Hawks in 2008, showing little sign that he would someday hit a crucial World Series home run off one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. He didn’t even hit a home run that season.
Gonzalez smacked a game-tying home run Wednesday night in the top of the ninth inning against Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Gonzalez and the Houston Astros went on to win 7-6 in 11 innings to tie the World Series at one game apiece.
The Gonzalez homer marked the first time in Jansen’s career that he failed to save a playoff game.
Gonzalez hit .279 in 2008 with 15 doubles, three triples and 15 stolen bases. He was in the Chicago Cubs organization at the time.
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He joined the Astros organization in December 2011 when the Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to the Astros on the same day. He made his major-league debut in 2012. Now an important utility man, Gonzalez appeared at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field this season. He batted .303 with a career-high 23 home runs.
Gonzalez is “the answer in one person,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, according to the Los Angeles Times. He’s the backup to all of the team’s infielders.
“It’s like having multiple players in one,” Hinch said. “And not just that he can do it, he can do it well. ... As a manager, he’s a winning player.”
Another former Boise Hawk, Rich Hill, was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers in Game 2 and likely will start Game 6 if necessary. Hill allowed one run in four innings and struck out seven. He made his pro debut with the Hawks in 2002, also as part of the Cubs organization. He was 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings that season. He returned to Boise in 2003 and was 1-6 with a 4.35 ERA.