CHICAGO -- When Eugenio Suárez walked into the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field following Wednesday’s 3-2, 10-inning win over the Cubs and heard his teammates singing the Venezuelan national anthem, “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo,” with a king-sized bottle of champagne waiting for him, he couldn’t help it as tears started
CHICAGO -- When Eugenio Suárez walked into the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field following Wednesday’s 3-2, 10-inning win over the Cubs and heard his teammates singing the Venezuelan national anthem, “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo,” with a king-sized bottle of champagne waiting for him, he couldn’t help it as tears started to flow.
In the fourth inning, Suaréz crushed a 1-1 cutter from Cubs starter Jon Lester for his 48th home run of the year, setting a single-season home run record by a Venezuelan-born player. The record-breaking shot traveled a projected 409 feet and had an exit velocity of 100.3 mph, according to Statcast.
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The Reds' third baseman moved past Andrés “Big Cat” Galarraga, who hit 47 home runs for the Rockies in 1996.
“I did this for my family,” Suaréz said. “My wife, my little baby, everyone in Venezuela. They follow me. They knew that I had a chance to break Andrés Galarraga’s record, and I did it tonight. I don’t have the words to say."
Suaréz’s home run also tied him with Adrian Beltre and Mike Schmidt for the most by a National League third baseman.
Among all the great Venezuelan players to have featured in MLB's history, Suaréz is the single-season home run king. As he rounded the bases following his great milestone, you could see the colors of his homeland on his sleeve.
“It’s so special,” Suaréz said. “I appreciate all my teammates. I love Cincinnati, I love this team, I love this city.”
“It’s incredible,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s a great celebration. It clearly means a lot to him, but it really meant a lot to this team.”
While he felt like he didn’t have all the words to say to describe the moment, his teammates had no problem praising their brother, “Geno”.
“He’s been the heart and soul of this team all year,” Reds reliever Amir Garrett said. “I almost started to cry with him when he was giving that speech, man. He’s so humble. He deserves everything. He’s a great teammate. One of the best I’ve been around.”
“He does it in such a way with such class, and that’s what I love about him,” reliever Michael Lorenzen said. “Positive guy, does it with class. So you wish the best for him.”
Suárez's 28 home runs since the All-Star break are the most in baseball, with Jorge Soler's 22 in second. In the second half, he has an impressive .720 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.112.
“I’m probably going to pitch around him and move on to the next guy,” Lorenzen said of how he’d approach facing Suaréz . “He’s pretty hot right now. Been hot all year, honestly.”
Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.