Baseballs have a way of finding the seats in a hurry during games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. That was true again Thursday, when the D-backs and Reds combined to hit six home runs in Arizona's 12-2 victory.But the two most electric round-trippers of the day came when the
Baseballs have a way of finding the seats in a hurry during games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. That was true again Thursday, when the D-backs and Reds combined to hit six home runs in Arizona's 12-2 victory.
But the two most electric round-trippers of the day came when the game was well in hand, as the D-backs' Ketel Marte and Jake Lamb each took Reds reliever Ariel Hernandez deep in the ninth on two of the fastest pitches thrown across the Major League slate all day. They also happened to be two of the seven fastest pitches hit for a homer (Marte, second fastest; Lamb, tied for sixth fastest) by any Major League player this season.
Marte was first up with one out in the ninth and the D-backs leading, 6-2. After watching Hernandez's first pitch come in at 99.1 mph, Marte -- a switch-hitter batting from the left side -- jumped on the second fastball that entered the zone near his ankles at 99.7 mph. That's some serious heat, but Marte's bat was even faster, as he pulled it a Statcast-projected 393 feet for a two-run dinger. Only the Yankees' Matthew Hollidayhas homered off a faster pitch this season (100.2 mph from the Rays' Ryne Stanek on May 19), and it's the fastest offering any D-backs player has taken deep since pitch tracking was implemented in 2008.
Marte's second home run of the season was memorable for its skill; his first of the year was memorable for its majesty. Arizona fans may recall him hitting a Luis Avilan pitch a Statcast-projected 440 feet way up the left-field seats at Dodger Stadium on July 6.
Marte's quick hands extended Arizona's lead to 8-2, but the D-backs weren't done yet. Gregor Blanco walked and A.J. Pollock doubled to set the stage for Lamb with two outs in the ninth. After taking a first-pitch changeup for a strike, Lamb took three straight fastballs from Hernandez for balls. When Hernandez came back over the middle with a 99.1-mph heater, Lamb was ready. The All-Star third baseman barreled the pitch the opposite way, slamming his second dinger of the day with 98.3-mph exit velocity and a 29-degree launch angle for a projected 355-foot, three-run homer over the wall in left.
Major League batters as a group had combined to hit just five pitches of 99 mph or faster for home runs in 2017 entering Thursday. By the time Lamb touched home plate, that total had climbed to seven. Lamb's 99.1-mph follow-up to Marte ranks as the third-fastest pitch hit out by a D-backs player since 2008, just behind a 99.2-mph fastball crushed by Paul Goldschmidt on May 13 of this year. For those counting at home, that means Arizona has now hit three of the seven homers in baseball this year off 99-plus mph heat.
We know that opposing pitchers get even tougher in October, when teams have a bevy of flame-throwing relievers to throw at lineups. If the D-backs -- who currently hold the National League's top Wild Card spot -- do end up making the postseason, it appears they'll be ready for the late-game heat.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.