Bucs go boom: Mercer tops Statcast blasts

Shortstop belts projected 466.1-foot HR; Rodriguez, Polanco add deep shots

April 23rd, 2016

PHOENIX -- As Pirates starter Jonathon Niese walked out from the visitors' bullpen Friday evening, he saw Chase Field's retractable roof opening up and one thought came to mind: "Oh, boy." It was going to be a tough night to pitch and a good one to hit.

The Pirates found their power stroke in Friday night's 8-7 win at Chase Field, clobbering three of the six longest home runs tracked by Statcast™ this season against D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin.

"You could feel it out there, the ball was flying," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "And you could see it the first few innings."

Mercer crushed an 85 mph changeup from Corbin in the third inning, sending it a projected 466.1 feet to left-center field. Mercer's first homer of the season surpassed Nolan Arenado's projected 462.2-foot shot as the longest in the Majors this year.

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"When Mercer hits 'em, they don't just scrape the fence," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's some distance to the ones he's hit."

The ball came off Mercer's bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph. Mercer's longest home run before Friday went 411 feet on June 2, 2015, off Yusmeiro Petit. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant still claims the longest home run ever tracked by Statcast™, a projected 495-foot bomb last season.

Mercer's massive homer was the Pirates' third of the night, as Sean Rodriguez and Gregory Polanco went back-to-back off Corbin in the second inning. Mercer was more impressed by their moonshots than his line-drive homer.

"Way better than mine," Mercer said. "Way higher and more of a shot. Mine was more on a line."

Rodriguez launched his second homer of the season to left-center field, a projected 458.5-foot shot that ranks sixth on the list of longest homers tracked by Statcast™ this season.

Rodriguez's two-run shot would have ranked fifth if not for Polanco, who drilled a projected 460.7-foot homer high off the batter's eye in center field to give the Bucs their first back-to-back homers of the year.

"Maybe it's something in the water," Rodriguez quipped.

The Pirates entered the night with seven home runs as a team, tied with the Angels for the second-lowest total in the Majors. They lost a significant amount of power by cutting ties this offseason with Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but the Bucs showed Friday there's still plenty of clout in their bats.

"I do think we're going to hit some home runs. Are we going to hit as many as last year? I don't know," Hurdle said. "We have power in this lineup, and I think it's going to play out over the long haul."