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Cron cranks 3-run blast in first inning vs. Mets

First baseman slugs Rays' hardest-hit homer of season, per Statcast
Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- C.J. Cron wasn't supposed to be in the Rays' lineup Sunday.

Then Kevin Kiermaier's back tightened up, and manager Kevin Cash had to make some adjustments. Mallex Smith moved to center field, Jake Bauers moved into the outfield and Cron became the first baseman.

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NEW YORK -- C.J. Cron wasn't supposed to be in the Rays' lineup Sunday.

Then Kevin Kiermaier's back tightened up, and manager Kevin Cash had to make some adjustments. Mallex Smith moved to center field, Jake Bauers moved into the outfield and Cron became the first baseman.

View Full Game Coverage

And in the top of the first inning, Cron made it all look good. He sent a 3-1 fastball from Mets starter Chris Flexen into the second deck in left field, giving the Rays an early 3-0 lead, which sent them on the way to a 9-0 win.

Statcast™ estimated Cron's home run at 439 feet. Even more impressively, the exit velocity was 113.5 mph, making it Tampa Bay's hardest-hit home run of the season. Since Statcast™ debuted in 2015, the only harder-hit Rays home run was the one Steven Souza Jr. hit on Aug. 6 of last year against the Brewers at Tropicana Field.

"All of them count the same, whether it's 113 [mph] or 90," Cron said. "I was just happy it got over the fence."

It was Cron's 17th home run of the season, a new career high after he hit 16 each in the past three years. It was his first home run in 34 at-bats since June 19.

And it came on a day when Cron wasn't even supposed to play.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

Tampa Bay Rays, C.J. Cron