Cruz's 440-foot homer puts him atop unique leaderboard

August 22nd, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- By the time a player has amassed 459 career home runs, distinctions between the dingers can become less apparent. 

Nelson Cruz found a way to make his solo blast stand out in the Nationals’ 2-1 loss to the Padres on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park.

With zeros on the board in the fourth inning, the 42-year-old designated hitter took two balls from left-hander Sean Manaea. Then he demolished a 91.3 mph sinker that took a jaw-dropping route out of the park.

Cruz drove his 10th homer of the season a Statcast-projected 440 feet at 113.3 mph into the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building, just below the rooftop.

“If you’re going to get got, it’s better to give up a 600-foot bomb than a wall-scraper,” said Manaea. “It was a mistake pitch, and he definitely did something with it.”

What Cruz did with it was hit the longest third-deck home run at Petco Park since the stadium opened in 2004. He edged out the mark set by current teammate/former Padre Luke Voit by two feet (438 feet, June 12, 2022), per Jeff Praught, Padres’ senior manager of scoreboard operations. (Pre-Statcast era home runs are team estimates.)

Cruz's homer was the 31st time a player has gone yard to the notable location in the regular season. He is the fourth player to do so this year, joining Julio Rodríguez, Voit and Mike Brosseau.

"It's definitely a nice ballpark, very unique, different than most of the stadiums,” Cruz said. “When it goes that far and it lands in that type of place it's more, I guess, attractive for fans and players."

The homer turned heads around the packed ballpark, including in the Nationals’ dugout. Cruz provided their only offense of the day.

“That was a bomb,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I thought it was going to go on top of the roof, I really did. He smoked it. I’ve seen him do that a lot, but it was a bomb.”

Cruz was able to soak in seeing it leave the park, too.

“I had a good view to watch it,” he said with a smile.

After a home run drought from June 25 to Aug. 15, Cruz has gone yard twice in his last seven games. During that stretch, he has connected for seven hits and driven in as many runs.

He recorded his 2,000th career hit earlier this month, and he is four home runs away from tying Adam Dunn and Jose Canseco for No. 37 on the all-time home run leader list.

Cruz credits his health in his 18th season for his productivity, which is key for the Nationals at this point in the season after trading heavy-hitters Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres on Aug. 2.

“He’s just a professional baseball player,” said Martinez. “He loves to play the game, he understands the game and he keeps himself in great shape. The guy goes in the gym every single day, doesn’t miss a beat. I can’t say enough about Nelson. He’s been unbelievable.”