The San Diego Padres’ Daniel Camarena is now a minor-league baseball legend. Camarena, a 22-year-old reliever for the San Diego Padres, hit the first and only home run of his career at the start of last week. It was a grand slam that sent the San Diego Mariners’ Max Scherzer to the showers after only two outs.
It is common to hear of players winning a league title after being “brought in” late in the season by a team that has been struggling all year, but rarely do you hear of a rookie earning a spot in the World Series on his own, having never pitched above Double-A. That is exactly what happened to 20-year-old San Diego Padres’ reliever Daniel Camarena, who threw his first career no-hitter in his first ever appearance in the majors, and managed to hold the Nationals’ Max Scherzer scoreless in a win against them in the series opener.
SAN DIEGO – Welcome to Slam Diego, Danielle Camarena.
The former rookie hit a terrific grand slam against Washington ace Max Scherzer, and his hometown San Diego Padres overcame an eight-run deficit to eventually beat the Nationals 9-8 Thursday night, thanks to an RBI single by Trent Grisham in the ninth inning.
The Padres made their biggest comeback in franchise history, helped by the 28th pick. Fernando Tatis’ home run and Grisham’s two-run shot.
But it was Camarena’s hit that rocked the crowd at Petco Park.
Camarena, who attended Cathedral Catholic High, was called up earlier today for his second game with the Padres. He replaced Yu Darvish in the fourth inning after the All-Star sprained his left hip and allowed Trea Turner to hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot that gave the Nationals an 8-0 lead.
With the Padres short of hitters the past few days, manager Jace Tingler had Camarena hit for himself in the fourth inning against a struggling Scherzer with the bases loaded and two outs. The lefty threw a 1-2 fastball into the right-field bleachers, infuriating the fans and forcing the Padres to take an 8-6 lead.
Camarena said he was just trying to put the ball in play, especially against Max who is tough, so I just tried to do my best to put the ball in play.
He was as stunned as anyone in the stadium.
Oh my God, I fainted, he said. I hit first base and suddenly noticed the stadium lights flashing, and it was like it hit me: Oh, my God, I just hit a home run. Not only that, but a grand slam.
Camarena pitched three innings in his only major league game in his debut this season. As a junior, he hit just 5-for-28 (.179), with no extra bases and no RBI. His teammate Gosuke Katoh, also from San Diego, gave him a bat and batting gloves.
Camarena became only the second pitcher in history whose first hit was a grand slam. The first was Bill Dogleby of the Philadelphia Phillies on the 21st. April 1898.
Camarena, 28, became the first relief pitcher to hit a grand slam since Pittsburgh’s Don Robinson on Dec. 12, 1985, and the first Padres player, both pitcher and position player, for whom the grand slam was the first hit. The last major league player to do so was Brandon Crawford of San Francisco on the 27th. May 2011 in Milwaukee.
I think everyone was mostly shocked, Grisham said of the slam. Shock and excitement. We scored four points and got back in the game.
It was the first home run Scherzer allowed to a pitcher in a 14-year career that included three Cy Young Awards and seven All-Star selections. This is the fourth time he has hit a grand slam – Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also hit a slam for him this year.
Tommy Pham started the ninth game for the Padres with a single against Sam Clay (0-2), advanced on consecutive groundouts and scored when Grisham singled to right.
Tatis, who was selected as the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game, scored a run and stole a base, becoming the youngest player in baseball history with 20 runs and 20 stolen bases before halftime. Tatis has 28 home runs and 20 stolen runs to his credit. His 28 home runs are the most of any shortstop before the break.
The Nationals ousted Darvish after three innings and gave Scherzer an 8-0 lead after four innings before the 36-year-old right-hander allowed seven runs in the fourth.
Pham opened with a single to bring in Scherzer, and Tatis hit an RBI single off Kyle Finnegan to make it 8-7.
Tatis opened the fourth with a strike to left field for the second yard. With one out, Scherzer hit a pitch to Manny Machado, allowed a single to Grisham and hit a pitch to Eric Hosmer to load the bases. Wil Myers drew a walk that led to one run before Scherzer struck out Victor Caratini. Then Camarena came on.
The Padres have hit five grand slams this season. Their 12 slams since the start of the 2020 season are more than any other team in baseball. The Padres made Slam Diego popular last year when they became the first team in history to hit four slams in as many games and five in six games.
We’re down 8-0 against Max Scherzer, our ace is not in the game, and we get a grand slam from a pitcher who just came in today, maybe at the top, Tingler said. He’s special, and I’m sure we’ll do special things just by the way we fight. You don’t lie down, you keep walking.
The Padres made it 8 with a double by Fam in the sixth inning.
Turner scored a run in the first game and a single in the third and scored twice against Darvish.
MVP Mark Melancon (2-1) pitched the ninth inning and got the win.
Scherzer allowed seven runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts on the hits and one walk.
Darvish allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings, struck out two and walked none.
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