ARLINGTON -- When Josh H. Smith imagined his first career home run, it included the ball flying into the stands and a typical trot around the bases.
Instead, the Rangers’ No. 8-ranked prospect hit a sinking liner just 271 feet Monday night, and as it bounced just out of reach of A’s center fielder Ramón Laureano, Smith sprinted around the bases and dove headfirst into home plate to complete his first career home run -- an inside-the-parker in Texas’ 10-8 win over Oakland at Globe Life Field.
When jokingly asked if he knew it was gone off the bat, Smith chuckled: “For sure, way out of there. Dead center.”
“I’ll take it,” Smith added. “Once I got to second base, I was like, ‘Oh, we got a shot,’ so I tried to turn on the jets a little bit. When I was actually rounding third, I was like, ‘Jesus, there might not be a zero in the home run column anymore.’ No, I'll take that, for sure, but I would like to get one out, like a real one. That'd be nice.”
Smith is just the fourth MLB player in the last 10 years to hit an inside-the-park home run for his first career homer and the first since the Dodgers’ Zach McKinstry on April 3, 2021. He's the third Ranger (since 1972) to accomplish the feat, including Craig Gentry (Sept. 23, 2011, vs. Seattle) and Marc Sagmoen (April 17, 1997, at Kansas City).
Smith noted that he thinks it’s his first inside-the-park home run at any level of baseball.
“It almost doesn’t even feel like a homer,” he said.
“It was pretty special,” added Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “I've seen that happen before, but we've all been kind of waiting for [him to hit a homer]. He's had some really good at-bats. … As soon as it got past [Laureano], I knew it was gonna roll to at least the track. Where he dove for the ball was pretty shallow, so he had a long way to go. I didn’t think it was going to be close, to be honest with you.”
It was also just the second inside-the-park home run in Globe Life Field history, as Smith posted a three-RBI game for the second straight day. His first eight career RBIs have all come within the last five games.
While the Rangers rookie infielder put on a show with his sprint around the bases, the franchise shortstop in Corey Seager added a home run trot of his own.
It’s a common sight at this point, Seager hitting home runs at Globe Life Field, and in Monday’s win, he launched a 420-foot solo shot to deep center field, his 20th of the season and 14th in his home ballpark.
He now has a homer in four straight games (all at Globe Life Field), the longest streak of his career and tied for the longest in MLB this season. The last Rangers’ hitter to homer in four-plus straight games was Joey Gallo last year (five).
“They can't defend a ball that goes in the seats,” Woodward said. “It just seems like every at-bat [with Seager]. I guess I've seen him a lot, but no matter how good or bad he may look, every time he steps in the batter's box, I think he's gonna hit one 110 mph. I'm not really surprised by the success he has. He's as consistent of a performer as I’ve been around as far as just the mindset and mentality. It’s a special at-bat every night.”
Seager’s night continued a hot streak for the Rangers’ $325 million man, who was on Monday named the American League Player of the Week after hitting .500 (11-for-22) with a 1.601 OPS in the week prior to the matchup with the A’s.
But for all of Seager’s accolades, including his 124 career home runs, he’s missing one thing: an inside-the-parker. So will he ever add one of those to his stat sheet?
“Probably never,” Seager joked, noting he’s a bit slower than Smith. “No, probably never. People would have to trip, that’s for sure.”