I’ve been watching baseball for around 35 years. I’ve been watching it closely and obsessively for most of that time. Given our prejudices which favor recency over memory, I’m willing to admit that, perhaps, I have seen a throw better than Yoenis Cespedes’ throw in last night’s A’s-Angels game. But if I have, I simply can’t think of one.
Eighth inning, Howie Kendrick on first base. Mike Trout doubles to left field. Cespedes goes to retrieve it but he misplays it, it kicks off his glove and rolls to the wall going down the left field line. Kendrick is on his horse, rounds third and heads for home. Then:
That’s probably 300 feet on the fly, in high arc but coming straight down into Derek Norris’ glove. The umps reviewed. Officially to see if the tag was made and/or the plate blocked. Unofficially: because the video guys in New York just wanted to see the throw again. I assume, anyway.
Someone will find some old video of a Vlad Guerrero or a Dave Parker or a Bo Jackson throw today that they will claim featured a better throw than the one Cespedes uncorked. And, as these things go, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’ll take some pretty impressive old video, however, to get me to say this one wasn’t the best.
Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.
Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.
Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat. As Jayson Stark points out, Hernandez joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Adam Kennedy, and Beltre as players to hit three homers in a series clincher.
Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.
No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.