Just over four years ago, Robinson Cano belted a three-RBI home run off of Rangers right-hander Tanner Scheppers. The Mariners eventually lost the game by a score of 8-6, but the moment held some significance for their second baseman: It was his first home run since he inked a massive 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle that winter.
On Sunday, Cano collected his 100th home run for the club: a two-run, 398-footer off of Josh Tomlin in the second inning of the Mariners’ series finale against the Indians. The blast capped a five-run inning, giving the Mariners an early advantage that they subsequently tried to return to the Indians in the bottom of the frame.
With 304 career homers, Cano sits 10th on the active list behind Albert Pujols (619 home runs), Miguel Cabrera (465), Adrian Beltre (463), Edwin Encarnacion (354), Jose Bautista (331), fellow Mariner Nelson Cruz (328), Curtis Granderson (322), Adrian Gonzalez (313) and Ryan Braun (307). He wasn’t the only one to go deep against the Indians on Sunday, either: Ryon Healy launched two home runs off of Tomlin and Nick Goody, while Mitch Haniger saved a solo shot for the ninth inning against Zach McAllister. The Mariners won, 10-4.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.