CLEVELAND -- Everyone has their own rituals, especially in the game of baseball, but not many have ones like Franmil Reyes.
The slugger hits home runs, motions as if he has a bazooka on his shoulder as he rounds third base and trots back into the dugout with his team. Seems normal to those observing from afar, but his next step is to grab an iPad and watch the replay of the long ball not to see his swing, mechanics or even where it landed -- he wants to see his teammates’ reactions.
And the first of two homers he hit in the Indians’ 7-2 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday caused his teammates to all throw their hands behind their heads in disbelief.
“It’s ridiculous,” Indians starter Zach Plesac said. “He sent that ball out of the stadium, I think, today. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That’s incredible.”
Reyes smacked a ball to a place very few -- if any -- have reached. He sparked what would become an Indians Home Run Derby in the second inning with a 446-foot blast that bounced off the bridge above the home run porch in left field. The ball lasted a split second on the bridge before it bounced over the railing and landed outside of the ballpark, picked up by fans who were walking into the game.
When Reyes heats up, there’s little that will slow him down. His 446-foot bomb was tied for his second farthest of the season. The longest came on April 27 against the Twins (452 feet) and his other 446-footer was hit on April 9 against the Tigers. Those two games were his only two multi-homer contests of the season -- that is, until Wednesday.
Like his last two mammoth homers, Wednesday’s moonshot indicated there was much more in the tank. In his next at-bat, Reyes recorded homer No. 2 of the day -- a casual 421-foot shot to center to extend Cleveland’s lead. The blast was the third homer hit by a member of the Indians that inning, following Cesar Hernandez and José Ramírez, marking the first time the club hit three homers in a single inning since Aug. 15, 2019. Ramírez and Reyes are just the second duo to go back-to-back for Cleveland this season, as Hernandez and Amed Rosario also hit consecutive homers on May 31 against the White Sox.
“I don't think it's a coincidence that a guy hits a ball that far or that well when you hit a ball the other way like he did to left-center,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That shows you that a guy's mechanics [are good], that he's on balance and he's covering what he's supposed to cover. Those are two really pretty swings.”
Reyes has said it before and he’ll say it again: He’s not a pull hitter. And he proved that by sending the second homer of the game to center field.
“I like to use the other part of the plate,” Reyes said. “If you come in and I make the adjustment quick and I pull my hands quick to the ball, I know I’m gonna hit it very good to left field. But I’m a guy that uses the other part of the field, so anything away, I’ll extend my arm. So that was pretty good.”
This checks out. Reyes has homered on a pitch located in each of the nine boxes that fill a strike zone except for the low-and-away corner. His 36 homers with Cleveland have been scattered all over the outfield, with a few more landing in right-center and right field than the left side of the diamond.
But none have found a way out of the ballpark, except for Wednesday’s, which was pulled down the line. And while he may not have known just how impressive his blast was as he rounded the bases, he quickly found out when he saw his teammates’ immediate reactions on the iPad replay.
“I know it was pretty awesome,” Reyes said with an enormous grin.