Rake it to the limit: Historic homers abound

Ohtani launches 1st; back-to-back jacks bookend Cards-Crew; Villanueva hits 3

April 4th, 2018

Tuesday's big league action was marked by homers of all shapes and sizes -- from moonshots to back-to-back pairs to dinger debuts and even a thrilling inside-the-parker. Just in case you didn't have your eye on every game, here's the dinger fun you might have missed during a wild night of baseball.
Ohtani gets his first
Shohei Ohtani put some doubts about his Major League ability to rest on Sunday by racking up plenty of whiffs from the mound, and he put even more to rest Tuesday with one emphatic swing. With two outs in the first inning, Ohtani stepped in for his first home at-bat as an Angel and golfed a curveball from Indians starter Josh Tomlin just over the wall in right-center for a three-run shot and his first Major League home run.

Ohtani put plenty of muscle behind his blast, belting it with 104.5-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™, and sending the ball an estimated 397 feet. His Angels teammates had some fun after Ohtani's trip around the bases, giving their new teammate the silent treatment before he finally roused them into a raucous celebration. More >
Villanueva makes Petco Park look small
Suiting up for just his 14th career game as a Major Leaguer, Padres third baseman raised his profile Tuesday by homering not once, not twice, but three times against the Rockies at San Diego's cavernous Petco Park. None of Villanueva's three homers were cheap either, as their exit velocities of 107.1 mph, 105.6 mph and 105.2 mph marked three of the third baseman's four hardest-hit balls as a big leaguer dating back to his debut last season.

Villanueva tied Jarrett Parker (Sept. 26, 2015 for the Giants) for the second-fewest career games logged by any Major Leaguer who has homered three times in one contest since 1908. Former Phillies catcher Bobby Estalella went deep three times in his 10th career game on Sept. 4, 1997.
Ozuna goes deep, Garcia goes deeper
The Cardinals' launched the farthest home run of the season on Tuesday night -- but he didn't hold that title for very long.
In the top of the third inning at Milwaukee, Ozuna pounded a Chase Anderson fastball way up into the left-field bleachers for a two-run shot. A big trade acquisition this offseason, Ozuna's first homer with St. Louis broke a pair of club records.

The 117.2-mph exit velocity was the Cardinals' hardest on a homer since Statcast™ debuted in 2015 -- by nearly 5 mph. The 479-foot projected distance was also the team's best, as well as the longest by any player thus far in '18.

However, of the White Sox quickly beat that mark. Facing the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ, Garcia slugged a towering solo shot into the upper reaches of the Rogers Centre. At 116.7 mph and 481 feet, it not only surpassed Ozuna but also set White Sox Statcast™ records for home run exit velocity and distance.

Cardinals waste no time
Ozuna's monster homer wasn't the only big fly in Milwaukee on Tuesday. It wasn't even the first. No, the Cardinals opened the game with back-to-back home runs off Anderson -- starting with the game's very first pitch. took Anderson deep on the first ball Anderson threw him, and the next batter, Tommy Pham, didn't waste much more time than that. He launched a homer on the second pitch of his at-bat, giving the Cardinals two home runs on the first three pitches they saw. More >
Opening a game with back-to-back home runs isn't all that rare by itself -- it happened as recently as Sept. 28, when the Yankees opened their game against the Rays in the Bronx with home runs by and . But game-opening back-to-back homers on just three pitches? That happens far less often. To find the last instance of that, you have to go back to May 13, 2009, when the Cubs did it against the Padres at Wrigley Field. Alfonso Soriano led off the first inning with a home run on the second pitch he saw from , and Ryan Theriot went deep on the very next offering.

'It ain't over 'til it's over'
The Cardinals had their fun early, but it was the Brewers who got the last laugh in Milwaukee.
Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, new Brewer stepped in against Cardinals reliever with a chance to win over plenty of new fans at Miller Park. On a 2-2 pitch, Yelich connected on a slider and drove it a Statcast-estimated 415 feet to center to tie up the Crew's National League Central rivals.

That would have been enough to send the game to extra innings, but longtime Brewer decided to end things right then and there. Stepping in right after Yelich, Braun launched the first pitch he saw a projected 435 feet over the left-center-field wall to send Miller Park into a walk-off frenzy. Tuesday's wild game was the first in Major League history to both begin and end with back-to-back homers, according to Elias Sports Bureau, and it pushed the Crew to a 4-1 record to begin 2018. More >
Didi's historic day powers Yankees to home-opener victory
The Yankees' lineup is loaded with big names like Judge, and , but don't sleep on shortstop Didi Gregorius. Batting from the cleanup spot, Gregorius launched a pair of homers to his favorite spot in right field at Yankee Stadium as part of an eight-RBI performance against the Rays.

Gregorius became the first Yankees shortstop to drive in at least eight runs in a game since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, and he also became the first Major Leaguer to drive in eight runs in his team's home opener. More >
Correa's toe just fine on electric trip around the bases
wasn't even a sure bet to make Astros manager AJ Hinch's lineup card Tuesday after he had exited Houston's home opener Monday with a bruised left big toe. But Correa was feeling well enough to bat cleanup, and evidently well enough to make some Statcast™ history for his club.

With a runner on and two outs in the first, Correa drove a ball into the left-center-field gap at Minute Maid Park and saw it hit the wall just beyond the reach of Orioles left fielder . Correa got on his horse, rounding the bases in just 16.39 seconds, per Statcast™, to record the fastest home run by an Astros player since the player-tracking technology launched in 2015. Correa's electric trip marked the Astros' first inside-the-parker since Jon Singleton raced around the bases on Aug. 2, 2014. More >
Donaldson makes it five straight vs. White Sox
Josh Donaldson might never want to see the White Sox leave Toronto.
The Blue Jays' star third baseman homered off Chicago lefty on Tuesday, marking the fifth consecutive matchup against the White Sox in which he's circled the bases. It's the second time in Donaldson's career that he's enjoyed a five-game homer streak against the South Siders, evidently one of his favorite American League opponents to hit against.

Donaldson added a little spice to this series Monday night when he pretended to blow a whistle at the White Sox bench after homering off . The motion was in reference to Chicago first-base coach Daryl Boston, who frequently blows a whistle whenever a White Sox player makes a good defensive play. Boston took Donaldson's gesture in stride, and Donaldson changed his walk-up music to "Blow the Whistle" by Too Short before homering Tuesday. More >

Fireworks in Atlanta
The Braves and Nationals combined to wallop five home runs in just the first three innings of their game at SunTrust Park. Naturally, Washington's got in on the action, continuing his red-hot start to the season with his fourth big fly (all coming in the past three days), a solo shot in the third. It was the eighth of his career off Atlanta starter -- his most against any pitcher. and pitcher A.J. Cole also took Teheran deep (the first extra-base hit of Cole's big league career), but Cole had troubles of his own on the mound. and Freddie Freeman both launched homers for the Braves, as Cole gave up 10 runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Sputtering offense by the Bay? Don't Panik just yet
The Giants' offense finally put a crooked number on the scoreboard in a 6-4 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday, but second baseman Joe Panik is doing all he can to score runs for San Francisco. After making history with homers in each of the Giants' 1-0 wins over the Dodgers over the weekend, Panik lofted a solo shot into McCovey Cove to cut Seattle's lead to 4-1.
Panik's splash hit made more history, as the Giants became the first team in history to score each of its first three runs of a season on three solo homers by a single player. More >

D-backs lefties get Kershaw twice
does not give up many home runs to left-handed hitters -- and he's almost never allowed multiple home runs to lefties in a game. But the D-backs got to him twice early on Tuesday. took the Dodgers ace deep in the second inning, and then added another one in the third.
It's just the fourth time in Kershaw's career that he's allowed two homers to lefties in a game, with the most-recent instance coming on Sept. 8, 2013, when (then with the Reds) hit two homers off Kershaw in Cincinnati. But this is actually the first time that two different lefties have homered off Kershaw in a game. More >