Pitchers raking and batters pitching has been a weird theme this year. Of course, Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani is well on his way to the American League MVP title after an amazing first half. But, we expected Ohtani to hit well. Others? Not so much. For all the weirdness that has happened this season, this week may take the cake.
Check out last week’s edition of Sunday Shenanigans.
The San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals entered a series finale on Thursday that should have been a pitching duel. Yu Darvish was going up against Max Scherzer. But, the Nats dominated Darvish. He allowed three runs in the first, and three more in the third. He was done after that, allowing six runs, including a home run to Washington’s Trea Turner. His replacement for the fourth inning was Daniel Camarena, a recent call-up who was expected to eat innings. This was Camarena’s second time with the Padres this season. A 20th round pick by the Yankees back in 2011, he made his MLB debut against Cincinnati on June 19th, allowing three runs in 2.2 innings in a 7-5 win.
Camarena was sent down after that game. 18 days later, he was on a major league mound again. This one didn’t start well either. Turner hit another home run, a two-run shot. That made it 8-0 Washington. But in the fourth inning, the Pads battled back.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
To lead off the inning, Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his 28th home run of the season, because of course, he did. A single, two hit-by-pitches and a walk by Wil Myers later, and the Padres had cut the deficit to six with the bases still loaded. Up came Darvish’s personal catcher, Victor Caratini with one out. In a big spot, Mad Max struck him out. So, with two outs and the bases still loaded, the eighth batter of the inning came to the plate. It was Camarena. The Padres were in a huge spot to mount a comeback. However, they needed someone to pitch the next inning. Not wanting to use a pitcher much less than they intended, the Padres actually sent out Camarena to bat against a multi-Cy Young winner. In 31 minor league Plate Appearances, he had a .385 OPS.
Never before should the expectations have been lower for a team to score with the bases loaded. But, they did. And not only did they score one. They scored them all. On a low fastball that was a very good pitch by Scherzer, Camarena gave it a ride.
No one believed this would have happened. A reliever just called up hit a grand slam off of Max Scherzer? Camarena’s family was in the stands as well. His brother may have been killed by the shock of watching this play out.
Also part of Camarena’s day:
-make his family proud😭 ✅ pic.twitter.com/2RYbuXchnQ
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 9, 2021
This was the first grand slam by a reliever since Don Robinson in 1985. It was also just the fourth grand slam let up by Scherzer in his career! Camarena also became the first pitcher in over 100 years, and just the second-ever, to have their first career hit be a grand slam. For all our Bill Duggleby stans reading this, you would know he did the same in 1898 for the Phillies.
The Nationals are not having a great season. Perhaps the best evidence of this is that Camarena was not even the first pitcher to hit a grand slam off of them! Nats and Braves fans will remember Huascar Ynoa‘s absolute bomb off of Tanner Rainey in early May.
Good thing they won in 2019 because the past two years are making it hard on D.C. residents.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images