The SF Giants’ offense was in no way responsible for their loss last night, and the perfect symbol of how ruthlessly the team was crushing the horsehide in the 8-10 loss to the Colorado Rockies is the unexpectedly titanic 446-foot home run from the SF pitcher, Jeff Samardzija.
SF Gate reports that the home run, which came in the top of the fifth inning with two men gone, was Samardzija’s first big fly as an SF Giant and the third of his entire career. Obviously, that makes it a huge milestone in a personal sense. In terms of the greater world of baseball, though, the center field shot shattered a much more significant record: it is the longest home run ever hit by any pitcher during the era of the MLB since Statcast was introduced.
Statcast is, according to its glossary page on the MLB’s official site, “a state-of-the-art tracking technology” that uses high-definition optical cameras to analyze movements of the players during both offensive and defensive play. The advanced technology was introduced to all 30 MLB stadiums in 2015. Since then, baseball stats have been more precise, and Jeff Samardzija’s blast last night blew any other offensive knock by a pitcher during the past few years out of the water.
Jeff Samardzija home run + bat flip + scream: pic.twitter.com/u77Gc5v3Ui— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 17, 2017
Jeff Samardzija’s reaction to his ear-splitting bat-on-ball connection was oh-so-satisfying, notes CNN Bay Area, as he performed a “gloriously aggressive bat flip” as soon as he watched the ball rocket off into the cold, crisp night. Statcast tells us the ball was traveling at 109 mph off Samardzija’s bat, and he was the first to realize what he had just done would be leading off a few highlight reels on MLB recap shows during the next few weeks.
As Samardzija rounded the bases, he gestured at the San Francisco crowd as if to say he couldn’t have done it without them. Before crossing home plate at the end of his diamond-shaped victory lap, he let out a primal scream of triumph. When he finally returned to the batter’s box to the congratulatory high five of Austin Slater, the runner he had batted in from first, he decided to bash his forearm against Slater’s instead. He was maybe a bit too zealous — SF Giants announcer Duane Kuiper pointed out that “he almost broke Slater’s forearm on the bash” — but who can really blame him after the colossal crack he had just taken?
Unfortunately, Jeff Samardzija’s elation did not last for long. After he took to the pitcher’s mound in the bottom half of that same inning, he let up five runs before he could retire the side. After the Giants had built up a 4-1 lead with Samardzija’s two-run homer as well as two solo ones by Denard Span and Joe Panik, that fall to a two-run deficit must have hurt.
Samardzija just could not hold his temper anymore by the seventh inning, by which point Colorado had piled on four more runs. During the inning, Jeff Samardzija threw a fourth ball and, after realizing he had given the Rockies another base runner, pointed threateningly at the home plate umpire. When the ump started towards the mound to protest, SF Giants manager Bruce Bochy left the cool safety of the dugout to intervene. He did his job a little too well, and he was ejected for the first time in the 2017 season.
Samardzija and Co. would not be able to overcome their losing margin for the rest of the game, and the Rockies walked out of Coors Field feeling a Rocky Mountain High from their 10-8 victory.
So although his pitching performance could not ease the brutal glut of losses the SF Giants have been suffering as of late, Jeff Samardzija will probably remember last night for a very long time as one the crown jewels in his offensive career.
[Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]