Rarer Than a Perfect Game
July 30, 2012 10:08 PM   Subscribe

Tonight, for only the third time in Major League Baseball history, a player (Kendrys Morales of the Los Angeles Angels) hit two home runs in the same inning, one from each side of the plate. Morales' second home run of the inning was a grand slam, his first since the ill-fated events of 5/29/10, when he suffered a freak ankle injury jumping onto home plate in celebration of his game-winning hit, just as his career was really beginning to take off. Morales subsequently missed nearly two full seasons of baseball, returning just this year.
posted by The Gooch (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
posted by philip-random at 10:11 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

A nice attempt, but this won't be enough to displace Fernando Tatis vs. Chan Ho Park as the most-abused trivia answer in baseball.
posted by RogerB at 10:13 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:32 PM on July 30, 2012

Good for him! It's always great to hear about someone doing something rare in baseball. There has been such intensive stats-keeping across the history of the game, anything that is rare is truly rare. I can't even think of many games where I've seen an entire side come to bat in a single inning, so hitting two home runs in a single inning... that's pretty outstanding.

(And out of the three times, this has happened twice for this team? And this happened after a pitching change during the inning? Go Morales!)
posted by hippybear at 10:33 PM on July 30, 2012

two home runs in a single inning [...] And out of the three times

Just to be pedantic, in case you or someone else is missing this: hitting two home runs in an inning is a rare but not insanely rare accomplishment, something that's been done by more than 50 guys in the history of the game. What makes this rarer than that is just the additional embellishment that Morales did it from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter.

And out of the three times, this has happened twice for this team?

No. As the LA Times article says, the two previous switch-hitters to do it were Mark Bellhorn with the Cubs in '02 (box score) and Carlos Baerga with the Indians in '93 (box score).

And this happened after a pitching change during the inning?

In order for the two homers to be hit from opposite sides of the plate by a switch-hitter, the two homers pretty well have to be hit off pitchers who throw with different hands.
posted by RogerB at 11:14 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

To be clear, hippybear, it isn't homering twice in an inning that's quite so rare (although it's not common), it's homering twice, where it's once from either side of the plate. That's unusual because there aren't a huge number of switch hitters, switch hitters tend to have a side they favor and only switch when the pitcher changes sides, etc. Homering twice in an inning has happened quite a few times, although it's still relatively rare.

Since you're a Washingtonian, you might appreciate this little nugget I'll share with you about something much rarer still. I remember watching this game live, back in 2002. The Seattle Mariners- still pretty decent a team after their historic but ultimately unfulfilling 116-win 2001 campaign- are playing the Chicago White Sox in Chicago on May 2nd, 2002. The starting pitcher for the White Sox is Jon Rauch, who is... not having a good night.

Rauch leads off the game by hitting Ichiro Suzuki with his very first pitch, and then proceeds to give up a two-run homerun to Bret Boone on the very next pitch, and suddenly it's 2-0 Mariners on two pitches. Ouch! Rauch takes a deep breath, and leans in to face the next hitter, centerfielder Mike Cameron. On a 1-2 count, Cameron homers, it's 3-0 Mariners, and Rauch is looking shaky. He gives up a double, an error, three singles, and finally records his first out on a sacrifice fly that makes it 5-0. He's faced 8 batters, given up 5 runs, and only recorded one out to show for it.

White Sox skipper Jerry Manuel has clearly given Rauch more rope than he deserved, so he goes to the bullpen for Jim Parque. Parque fares slightly better, getting Ichiro to ground out on a 1-2 pitch for the second out (although it scores Carlos Guillen from third, making it 6-0 Mariners). Phew, say the White Sox. 6-0, but two outs and this game is still winnable!

Except... up steps Bret Boone again, who deposits the very first pitch he sees into the seats. Yep, Bret Boone has hit two homeruns in the same inning, on two consecutive first pitch swings! To the best of my knowledge, he's the only hitter in history to accomplish that feat.

Crazy, right?!

Except... that isn't even the most noteworthy part of the inning, much less the whole game. Because you see, the very next batter- Mike Cameron- then steps up, and he powders a 3-2 pitch into the seats. It's now 9-0 Mariners and Bret Boone and Mike Cameron have just combined to be the only players in history who both homered twice in an inning, and to make it even more special, they've done so back-to-back.

Okay, so that's pretty crazy, right?!

Well, yes, but if that weren't enough, Mike Cameron would go on to home twice more in the game, with 4 homeruns. He'd hit his third homerun by the 3rd inning, and then his 4th homerun in the top of the fifth. Hitting four homeruns in a game has only happened 16 times in Major League history, and Mike Cameron's gotten his as early as the 5th inning of an away game. He's one of only six to do so in four straight plate appearances as well.

Now, sadly, here's history would sputter out. No player has ever hit 5 homeruns in a game- it's never happened. Yet Mike Cameron would get two more plate appearances in that historic May 2nd game. Unfortunately, his next appearance in the 7th inning Mike Cameron would be hit by a pitch- to the very loud boos of the hometown Chicago crowd, since those who were still in the stadium knew the game was long lost and figured the only way to make the trip to the ballpark worthwhile is if they got to witness unprecedented major league history.

Finally, Mike Cameron came up in the top of the ninth. He was looking at a 3-0 count from Mike Porzio, which usually means the pitcher will take something off it and just try to get the ball over the plate. Cameron saw an absolute meatball of a pitch... and he didn't even flinch. Cameron- as hot that night as any hitter has ever been- followed the unwritten rule that says you don't swing away during a blowout. Now, the stupid old men who believe in stupid old "unwritten rules" would say he did the right thing- even the normally sane Rob Neyer would write an opinion piece on this, applauding Cameron's willingness to not pile on (in an already lopsided game with a chance at history?!). But this of course is foolish; that pitch was right in the middle of the plate, and he'd have likely powdered that pitch for an unprecedented 5th homerun and a unique place in the history books. Instead, Cameron would fly out on a 3-2 count to very deep right field- right to the warning track- and just miss his 5th homerun by about 10 feet.

Anyway, I was watching that game live- because who on earth would turn off a game like that?!- and it remains one of my favorite and most indelible baseball memories. And since it took 102 years of major league baseball for this feat to happen, well... then probably as long as I should live, I will never again witness a pair of teammates to homer back-to-back twice in one inning.
posted by hincandenza at 11:44 PM on July 30, 2012 [30 favorites]

Nice post, Mefi needs more baseball although noone here but us intellectual folk will admit it. Morales' feat is pretty incredible.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:16 AM on July 31, 2012

Baseball is like the cats of sports...the weirder it gets, the more unabashedly I love it.

And though I often say that I want sports journalists and sports fans tokeep the fake narrative out of sports, but baseball is it how to such stories SO WELL!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:56 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Neil deGrasson Tyson had this to say about your Angels. Deep thoughts, by a deep thinker.
posted by Kale Slayer at 2:34 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Neil deGrasson Tyson had this to say about your Angels. Deep thoughts, by a deep thinker.

So what's his take on Sheffield Wednesday?
posted by chavenet at 4:07 AM on July 31, 2012

Don't miss the picture of Morales at the "one from each side of the plate" link. It's like that scene in "Homer At The Bat" where you watch his swing cause his belly fat to slosh around his torso in slow motion.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:21 AM on July 31, 2012

Rarer still: Bill Mueller of the Red Sox hitting two grand slams in a single game, one from each side of the plate. Only time it's ever happened. He hit a third homer in that game as well.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:00 AM on July 31, 2012

Things like this are why I love baseball.

The other big trivia bit that'll come up from this year is Zack Greinke starting three games "in a row," a first since the 1910s.
posted by drezdn at 6:42 AM on July 31, 2012

Now while it is true that no player has ever hit 5 HR in a single game, thanks to the double-header there are two men who have hit 5 HR in a single day. Stan Musial and Nate Colbert. That's pretty interesting... but it turns out that Nate Colbert was in attendance that day in 1954 when Musial also accomplished this feat.
posted by nulledge at 7:03 AM on July 31, 2012

A nice attempt, but this won't be enough to displace Fernando Tatis vs. Chan Ho Park as the most-abused trivia answer in baseball.

I remember watching that game. I never understood why Park was left in that game for that horrible 3rd inning. At least he can take solace in the fact that of the 11 runs he gave up in that inning, only 6 were earned runs.
posted by Groundhog Week at 7:10 AM on July 31, 2012

RogerB: "A nice attempt, but this won't be enough to displace Fernando Tatis vs. Chan Ho Park as the most-abused trivia answer in baseball."

Clearly, that's Eddie Gaedel.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:44 AM on July 31, 2012

I was actually at the game in 2010 where Morales broke his ankle celebrating his walk-off grand slam. Never saw a crowd reaction go from pure elation to gasping horror so quickly.
posted by The Gooch at 10:31 AM on July 31, 2012

Also, this was the first time it was done with a grand slam. Kendrys is the only player ever to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in one inning AND have one of them be a grand slam.
posted by jesirose at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2012

Only done twice: a game-ending unassisted triple play.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:28 PM on July 31, 2012

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