SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Diaz spent the past six months attempting to find the consistency he possessed while combining to hit .316 for the Braves over the four previous seasons. But the veteran outfielder's struggles didn't prove significant enough for manager Bobby Cox to lose all confidence in him.
When Cox constructed his lineup to oppose Giants right-handed ace Tim Lincecum in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on Thursday night, he didn't opt to put Nate McLouth in left field. Instead, he chose to give Diaz another chance to prove he can hit right-handed pitchers.
"Matty started the last game in Atlanta and he hit balls hard, and two of 'em were off right-handers," Cox said. "If he's going to hit righties or lefties, doesn't make any difference if he's hot, and we had to pick one and I picked him."
Diaz prolonged a career-long trend while hitting .273 against left-handers and .223 against right-handers this year.
But when McLouth was unable to extend the offensive prowess he showed in early September and Melky Cabrera continued to be a liability in the field and at the plate, Cox had little choice but to go with Diaz in left field.
McLouth has one hit and four strikeouts in six career at-bats against Lincecum. Diaz entered Thursday with one hit in three career at-bats against the Giants' ace.