Dominican Republic starter Ervin Santana was keeping Team USA's bats relatively quiet through his first 3 2/3 innings Saturday.
That was until Giancarlo Stanton ended Santana's night with one mighty swing and put the U.S. ahead for good in a 6-3 victory.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
With a runner on first, Stanton unloaded on a 92 mph fastball from Santana, sending the ball deep over the left-field wall and into the side of the Western Metal Supply Co. building at Petco Park for a two-run homer. Stanton's blast gave the U.S. a 4-2 lead in Saturday's win-or-go-home matchup and etched his name -- yet again -- near the top of the Statcast™ leaderboard.
Stanton's homer came off his bat with a whopping 117.3 mph exit velocity, per Statcast™, flying a projected 424 feet at a launch angle of 20 degrees. That ranks as the fourth-hardest-hit homer of the Statcast™ era, dating back to the beginning of 2015. But in an ultimate honor to Stanton's singular power, it was only his third-hardest-hit homer in that span. The Marlins slugger hit a 119.2 mph blast -- the all-time record holder -- in June 2015 against the Cardinals, as well as a 118.5 mph homer in April 2015 against the Phillies.
The third-hardest home run of the Statcast™ era belongs to the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, who hit a 117.4 mph blast in April of last year.
Stanton's mind-boggling homers aren't confined to competitive games, of course. Last July, he won the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby -- which, coincidentally, was held at Petco Park -- by clubbing 61 shots over the wall that traveled a combined distance of just under 15 miles. Stanton's exit velocity topped out at 120.4 that night, the all-time record for games or derbies or anything else Statcast™ has tracked, and he posted the highest average exit velocity of the event at 111.9 mph. In a dominant display, Stanton owned the 20 hardest-hit homers of the night.
"I guessed inside fastball," Stanton said of his mammoth homer Saturday. "I got to it early and had a little home run derby reminisce there."
Team USA had mustered only one batted ball with an exit velocity over 100 mph before Stanton's blast, which was as stark a contrast as could be from his first hit of the game. That came in the top of the third, when Stanton hit a Santana slider off the end of his bat at just 66.7 mph for a single through the right side.
That happened to be the fifth-softest base hit Stanton has ever collected in the Statcast™ era. He had also recorded just one hit in 14 career at-bats against Santana, striking out in nine of them.
As it turns out, there are all sorts of ways that Stanton can hurt opposing pitchers pitchers -- even if he's struggled against them before, and even if his hits differ by more than 50 mph worth of exit velocity.
The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.