Talk about a 1-2 punch! Watch Vlad's 1st 2 HRs

May 15th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s pregame line of questioning revealed his intentions Tuesday night.

During batting practice, he quizzed Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo about the ground rules for Oracle Park’s right-field wall that distinguished balls hit in play from home runs.

Obviously, power was on Guerrero’s mind. And he established it in awe-inspiring fashion, belting the first two home runs of his Major League career as the Blue Jays thumped the San Francisco Giants, 7-3.

Guerrero’s performance reinforced what the baseball world sensed long before his April 26 debut: This is no ordinary rookie.

At 20 years and 59 days old, Vladito is the youngest player to homer in Blue Jays history. Danny Ainge went deep at 20 years, 77 days old on June 2, 1979. Guerrero also became the third-youngest player in Major League history to hit his first two career home runs in the same game. Only Brian McCall in 1962 (19 years, 248 days) and Manny Machado in 2012 (20 years, 35 days) achieved this more quickly.

Coincidentally, Guerrero returned to the site of one of his father’s greatest slugging feats. It was here at Oracle Park where the elder Guerrero, playing for the Angels, defeated Toronto’s Alex Rios to win the Home Run Derby preceding the 2007 All-Star Game.

The younger Guerrero said the first congratulatory cell-phone message he received was from his father, a Hall of Fame outfielder.

“Like he always told me, don’t look for home runs,” Guerrero said through a club interpreter. “They’re going to come.”

He looked for them in this game, based on his pregame chat with Montoyo. It didn’t hamper his swing.

“He was talking about it because he knew it was coming,” Montoyo said. “That’s the confidence that kid has.”

Guerrero’s self-assurance withstood his shockingly subpar output from his early weeks in the Majors. He entered Tuesday batting .191 (9-for-47) with two doubles, one RBI, six walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 13 big league games.

“That’s why he’s special, because he wasn’t pressing,” Montoyo said. “He’s having fun. It’s unbelievable. He doesn’t care. He just plays. ... He’s an even-keeled kind of kid.”

Maybe the sight of Oracle Park’s outfield barriers tantalized Guerrero. After all, he was on hand here to watch his father win that Home Run Derby.

Vlad Jr. treated this Interleague series opener against the Giants as if he were picking up where Vlad Sr. left off.

Guerrero recorded his initial homer in the first inning by whipping a 3-2 fastball from Giants opener Nick Vincent over the center-field barrier. According to Statcast, the drive left Guerrero’s bat at 111 mph and traveled 438 feet.

“I did know that it was gone,” Guerrero said. “I made very good contact and hit it on the barrel.”

Guerrero outdid himself to deliver his next homer, a three-run, sixth-inning clout off Reyes Moronta that gave the Blue Jays a 7-2 lead. He propelled this one 451 feet to left-center field with an exit velocity of 113.7 mph -- the hardest-hit home run for the Blue Jays this season. Guerrero is the first Blue Jays player since Statcast started tracking in 2015 to hit multiple 110-plus mph homers in the same game.

Toronto starter , who earned his first Major League victory, was on second base following the second of his two surprising singles when Guerrero unleashed that thunderbolt. Thornton was so transfixed by the drive that he momentarily forgot about his primary obligation.

“I was watching it go,” Thornton related, “and then I said, ‘Wait, I gotta run.’“

In one game, Guerrero matched the home run total that his father accumulated at this ballpark in 22 games. He also lashed a second-inning single and a long foul line drive to left field, both of which recalled his father’s prowess.

“You saw three of the hardest-hit balls we’ve seen in a while.” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He got some pitches and did damage. Even the base hit. This kid, he’s going to be a great player. He really is. I know he’s gotten off to a slow start, but you saw the bat speed, you saw how the ball comes off his bat. You better make pitches to him. I’ve seen his dad hit balls like that. He had a great day. It looked like he broke out tonight, unfortunately.”

Big night for Thornton, too

Toronto’s other hitting star was the unlikeliest candidate to excel: Thornton, who became the fourth Blue Jays pitcher to record a multi-hit game in the regular season. The others were J.A. Happ (2018), Drew Hutchison (2014) and Roy Halladay (2007).

Thornton also became the first Blue Jays pitcher to collect two hits in his first game as a hitter. He came around to score both times, helping the Blue Jays pull away after they built a 3-2 lead after three innings. Thornton used a bat belonging to Eric Sogard, who also rapped two hits. Thus, the bat went 4-for-7.

“I just wanted to make contact,” Thornton said. “I was lucky I got all fastballs today. I just closed my eyes and swung and got lucky both times.”