Cruz makes hard-hit history with TWO lasers over 120 mph

May 22nd, 2024

PITTSBURGH -- When dropped a fly ball in the first inning Tuesday at PNC Park, the Giants could not have possibly known that they had awakened a sleeping giant.

“I was really pissed off when I went to hit,” Cruz said through interpreter and Major League coach Stephen Morales. “I think that’s part of why I hit it so hard.”

Cruz has the raw power and bat speed to produce some incredible power numbers and exit velocities. But on Tuesday, he did something no player has done in the Statcast era: drive two batted balls with an exit velocity over 120 mph in the same game. He also had three batted balls with an exit velocity over 115 mph, which had also never been done before in the same game.

“Speechless,” Nick Gonzales said. “Honestly, seeing that, I've never seen anything like that. I was saying it's a little frustrating because of how he hits it so hard so easily. It's amazing to watch.”

Cruz got his day started with a 120.4 mph single in the first inning, followed by a 116.3 mph double in the third. Those didn’t redeem him for his earlier error, though. With two outs in the ninth, he turned on a 100.3 mph Camilo Doval cutter for a game-tying double, which left the bat at 121.5 mph.

That set up Gonzales' walk-off knock in the bottom of the 10th for a 7-6 comeback victory over the Giants.

"He stayed locked in,” said manager Derek Shelton. “We had a play in the first we should have made. I think if you ask Oneil, he's going to tell you he should have made it. But the thing about it is I think we're seeing Oneil continuing to get better, continue to mature, because he did not let it affect him the rest of the game. His at-bats continue to be good, they continue to be solid, and he ended up getting the big hit to tie it there.

“Proud of him because of the fact that he stayed with it."

Since the advent of Statcast in 2015, there have only been 20 batted balls that were hit 120 mph or harder, including the two Cruz had Tuesday. The ninth-inning double was also the first time a pitch thrown 100 mph or harder was hit 120 mph.

Amazingly, while Cruz now has the two hardest-hit balls of any player in baseball this year, neither was the hardest-hit ball of his career. He holds the record for the hardest hit ball in the Statcast era for a 122.4 mph single he hit on Aug. 24, 2022. Considering he swings the second-fastest bat based on Baseball Savant’s data (averaging 77.8 mph with a 75.1% fast swing rate), there is always that potential for tremendous power at extra-base hits at record-setting speeds.

So maybe the thing to do is to just get mad before every game?

“I should, before I hit,” Cruz said with a smile to the idea.