SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a 421-foot sign where the brick wall in right field meets the center-field fence at AT&T Park. On a cool night -- like Thursday -- only the mightiest of blasts escape that part of the yard.Enter Cory Spangenberg. In the seventh inning of Thursday's 5-2 Padres
SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a 421-foot sign where the brick wall in right field meets the center-field fence at AT&T Park. On a cool night -- like Thursday -- only the mightiest of blasts escape that part of the yard.
Enter Cory Spangenberg. In the seventh inning of Thursday's 5-2 Padres victory, Spangenberg came to the plate against Madison Bumgarner with the game tied at 2. In no uncertain terms, it was a brutal matchup for San Diego's lefty-hitting third baseman. In eight career at-bats against the Giants ace, he was hitless with four strikeouts.
Spangenberg laid off a pair of cutters, working himself ahead in the count, before Bumgarner left a fastball over the inner part of the plate. Spangenberg capitalized, breaking the deadlock with a blast that carried into rarified territory at AT&T Park: the right-center-field bleachers.
"That's everything I've got right there," said Spangenberg, who hopped and pumped his fist when he realized the ball had left the park.
At 428 feet, the home run was the longest Statcast™ has projected by a left-handed hitter against Bumgarner.
"Really impressive," said Padres manager Andy Green. "That's a long way out there. It'd take me two times hitting it to get it out that far."
Spangenberg singled in the ninth, and he finished 2-for-4, continuing his torrid start to the second half. In seven games since the break, he's hitting .391/.440/.913. His four July home runs are as many as he had over the first three months combined.
Of course, late-season success is nothing new for Spangenberg. His career OPS is 203 points higher after the All-Star break. Injuries negated his second half in 2016, but he burst onto the scene with a brilliant final few months during the '15 campaign.
"I'm terrible in the first month or two, always," Spangenberg said. "I have no idea why. I wish I did; I'd change something. But I think I just keep with it, keep working, and eventually it turns around."
Indeed, it's turning around again for Spangenberg, who also homered Wednesday in Colorado. He credits hitting coach Alan Zinter for tinkering with his pregame routine.
Spangenberg has worked extensively with Zinter on pitch recognition, making sure he's swinging at the right pitches early in counts. Then when he does, he and Zinter have worked to make sure he doesn't get cheated.
Once a top prospect, Spangenberg was never known for his pop. With an offensive game built around speed and contact, he likely never will be. But there's power to be harnessed in his swing, and he feels as though he's doing so.
"I've always had [power] in BP," Spangenberg said. "I just didn't know how to translate it over to the game. I think little by little, it's translating."
It translated in a big way Thursday night.
"To hit that off Bumgarner in a tie game in that situation, it's impressive," said Padres first baseman William Myers. "I don't know what it is about him right now, but he's got his home run stroke going."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.