1, 2, 3! Perez helps Bucs make HR history

Pittsburgh is 1st club to have 3 players log 3-homer games in a single month

July 1st, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen didn’t move his feet. He didn’t need to. He knew. As Michael Perez’s third home run sailed through the Pittsburgh night sky, the Brewers' right fielder placed his hands on his hips and took up a thousand-yard stare. He wasn’t going to watch Perez complete his dance with history.

A day after Bryan Reynolds hit three home runs, Perez followed up with a three-piece of his own as the Pirates beat the Brewers, 8-7, on Thursday night at PNC Park. It was an appropriate end to a month, or a week-and-a-half, rather, that has now been defined by the trifecta.

“I always believe in myself, that I can do my best every day,” Perez said. “To be a part of this and the win, it feels good.”

Along with Reynolds and Perez, Jack Suwinski hit three homers of his own on Father’s Day, an afternoon he capped off with a walk-off. The efforts of that trio have made the Pirates become the first team in AL/NL history to have three different players log three-homer games in the same month. No other team in 2022 has had more than one instance of a player hitting three home runs in the same month.

“That’s strange,” manager Derek Shelton said. “I don’t know. I think since I’ve got here, I’ve seen a ton of stuff that’s different. Why not just add three guys hitting three homers in the same month to it. That’s kind of interesting that it’s never happened before.”

With Reynolds and Perez flexing their muscles in consecutive games, the Bucs became the second team in AL/NL history to have players hit three home runs in back-to-back games, joining the Braves, who saw Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall achieve the feat on Sept. 1-2, 2020, respectively.

With a little more than three months left in the season, the Pirates will have plenty of chances to make even more history. The record for three-homer games by a team in a season is four, which has been accomplished by the 1950 Dodgers, 1956 Reds and 2001 Brewers.

“It’s fun,” said JT Brubaker, who allowed four runs and struck out six across six innings. “It’s always awesome to watch our guys leave the yard like that. There’s nothing really you can say. Just celebrate and have fun with it."

Each of Perez’s home runs was hit harder and farther than the last. The first, a two-run shot, traveled a Statcast-projected 377 feet at 98.5 mph. The second, which almost cleared the right-field bleachers, went 391 feet at 103.0 mph. For his finale, his only true no-doubter of the evening, Perez hit his third 408 feet at 103.3 mph -- the one that made McCutchen move with the grace of a statue.

“He has the ability to drive the baseball, especially on the pull side,” Shelton said. “He hits the ball hard. It’s just making sure that he’s on time to get there, and tonight, he was on time.”

Perez entered the series opener hitting .129 -- the lowest season batting average a player has had entering a three-homer game in AL/NL history (minimum 75 at-bats prior to the game). He didn’t have any sense during batting practice that this was going to be a special night. He went through his pregame routine as normal. His mindset was to simply compete, and compete he did.

When Brewers manager Craig Counsell was asked if his club viewed Perez as a home run threat, he kept his response very matter-of-fact.

“He hit three home runs, so I guess you could say yes,” Counsell said.

Perez’s offensive outburst came on an evening when the Pirates hit five total, the other two coming off the bats of Oneil Cruz and Suwinski by way of back-to-back jacks in the second inning. It was an appropriate end to a month in which the Pirates hit 44 home runs, the second-most they’ve hit in a single calendar month in franchise history.

Said Shelton prior to the game: “I think we’re taking better swings, and I think it’s warming up. There were some balls that we hit early in the season, especially in this ballpark, that didn’t get out. Then, when you have two three-homer games, it definitely helps out.”

In fewer than two weeks, Perez, Reynolds and Suwinski have orchestrated a statistical aberration that the game, for all its history, has never previously seen. There will, likely, never be another team that has a trio each hit a trio in the same month again. That is, unless the Pirates have a little something extra prepared for July.