Sánchez hits longest HR of '22 with 496-foot moonshot

Center fielder's towering homer and López's 6 scoreless frames wasted in 7-1 loss

May 31st, 2022

DENVER -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly knows a thing or two about hitting home runs into the upper deck. He hit many into the upper reaches of Yankee Stadium as one of the game’s greatest sluggers back in the 1980s. So when he tells you what it feels like, you listen.

“It’s just monumental,” said Mattingly after the Marlins’ 7-1 loss to the Rockies in their series opener at Coors Field on Monday afternoon. “You don’t get that feeling more than a couple times in your lifetime.”

Mattingly was asked about upper-deck homers for a good reason: About two hours earlier, one of his players hit the longest home run by a left-handed hitter in Coors Field history.

Jesús Sánchez obliterated a slider from Rockies starter Ryan Feltner halfway up the third and upper deck in right field in the second inning. The ball traveled 496 feet, making it the longest home run ever hit at Coors Field by a left-handed hitter, and the second longest by any hitter, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton’s 504-foot shot in 2016. Sánchez’s blast is also the longest home run in the Majors this year, passing Mike Trout’s 472-foot one on April 14 in Arlington.

As Mattingly attested afterward, this was no ordinary upper-deck homer.

“You’ll hit some more [into the upper deck],” Mattingly said. “But not very many like that one. I’d like to see a picture from where that ball landed. It probably looks like it’s two blocks away.”

Sánchez entered Monday’s game in need of a big hit. Following a strong April, he was hitting just .151/.205/.260 over 78 May plate appearances when he stepped to the plate in the second inning.

What he did in his first plate appearance Monday certainly fit the category of “big hit.” In fact, it was a clout. He hit it so well, it’s tied for the third-longest homer that Statcast has ever tracked (Aaron Judge hit a 496-foot shot in 2017, and Miguel Sanó also had one in ’19). The only home runs that were longer were the 504-foot shot by Stanton at Coors Field in 2016, and a 505-foot drive by Nomar Mazara at Globe Life Park in ’19.

It wasn’t exactly surprising to Sánchez, who said he hit one 508 feet in the Minors. But it was very special, nonetheless.

“It was something incredible,” he said through an interpreter. “I didn’t know it was that big of a magnitude, but it was something great.”

Unfortunately for Miami, Sánchez's tremendous home run was as good as it would get on Monday. Starter bounced back from a couple of uncharacteristically rough outings with six scoreless innings in a very difficult pitching environment at altitude. He gave up three hits and struck out five, but he also walked four and had to work around traffic on the basepaths.

Still, the right-hander lowered his season ERA to 1.83 and preserved what had been a 1-0 Marlins lead into the seventh inning. That’s when everything unraveled. What has been a solid bullpen overall this season imploded in the seventh and eighth innings.

Cole Sulser came in to open the seventh, but he walked Brendan Rodgers, gave up back-to-back singles to Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson (Hampson’s was a bunt hit that resulted from nobody covering first base) and the back-breaker: A bases-loaded double by pinch-hitter Yonathan Daza that put Colorado ahead for good.

The Marlins’ ’pen would surrender three more runs before it was all said and done, and on the flip side, the lineup’s chronic futility when hitting with runners in scoring position continued -- Miami went 0-for-8 in that scenario Monday, and combined with Sunday’s loss in Atlanta, Marlins hitters are one for their last 15 with runners in scoring position.

“Your at-bats shouldn’t really change,” Mattingly said. “... I think the biggest thing to fight is that you put pressure on yourself. If our team’s not scoring, you put pressure on yourself -- ‘I want to get this done, I want to get this done.’ And that’s probably not the best way to go about it.”

The Marlins can’t take much more from the massive Sánchez homer other than their reactions of sheer awe. But they’ll hope that something Mattingly said about what the homer might do for Sánchez after a rough month at the plate will spread to their entire lineup as well.

“Hopefully it spurs him forward a little bit,” Mattingly said. “And it gets him on track.”