SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Andy Green said before Tuesday night's 7-1 win over the Dodgers that Los Angeles starter Kenta Maeda would provide a unique challenge for his hitters. Particularly Hunter Renfroe, who has had a tendency to expand the strike zone.
After a night that saw the rookie outfielder hit a three-run homer and an eighth-inning grand slam -- to drive in each and every run the Padres put on the scoreboard -- it's safe to say Renfroe met that challenge, becoming the first Padres rookie in history to drive in seven runs in a game.
He joined a group of 10 Padres hitters to claim that many RBIs in one game, in just his sixth Major League game.
"Boy can play," said Padres starter Paul Clemens, who held the Dodgers to just one run over five innings. "Boy can play the game."
San Diego's No. 3 overall prospect has become so highly touted for that ability to play the game, and has had no problems translating his plus power from scouting reports and Minor League stadiums to the Majors. So just how comfortable is he on the biggest stage?
"I'd rate it pretty high. I'm very comfortable," Renfroe said. "After the first intentional walk [in his Major League debut], it really helped me settle down in the box and really focus on what I'm doing up there.
"You just have to look for something out over the plate and in your zone, or where you're looking to hit the ball that day, that at-bat. Just kind of focus on there, and if it's not there, shut it down."
Green has been impressed with that approach, and said it was really the only thing that would hold the 24-year-old right fielder back.
"If he stays in the zone, he's going to be really good," Green said. "And he stayed in the strike zone almost the whole day today. He didn't chase at all. … It was a pretty spectacular day."
Renfroe jumped on an 81-mph slider from Maeda in the first inning, hitting a moonshot that traveled a Statcast-estimated 380-feet before topping himself in the eighth. Against Louis Coleman -- who Green said is "not an easy guy to face" for righties -- Renfroe worked a full count, fouled off a pitch and then squared up an 87-mph fastball that traveled 422-feet to center field, scoring four runs in the process.
"[He] saw a lot of sliders and got a fastball out over [the plate]," Green said, "and that's about as hard as I've seen a baseball hit all year."
Renfroe's first career grand slam put him in the company of fellow rookies Ryan Schimpf and Alex Dickerson, who have also hit their first grand slams this season. The Padres' three rookie grand slams this year is one shy of the rest of MLB's rookies combined.
In addition, Renfroe is now just the second San Diego batter to hit three home runs within his first six games. The other? Yasmani Grandal, who was sitting behind the plate for the Dodgers with a better view of Renfroe's power than anyone else in Petco Park.
"Hunter Renfroe is going to be a dynamic player at this level when he stays in the strike zone," Green said. "And there's really no other message for or about him. He can hit anything. He just has to get them over the plate.
"And when he does that, he does as much damage as anybody we have."