by Steve Mancuso

Aquino HR #9: Out of the Strike Zone

Aristides Aquino’s Timeline of Punishment

  1. First Major League Homer
  2. Obliteration
  3. Hardest Hit
  4. The (First) One Off Yu Darvish
  5. Start of a Huge Day
  6. Kyle Hendricks Tried Another Sinker
  7. Farthest Hit
  8. “A Loud Sound”
  9. Out of the Strike Zone
  10. Adam Wainwright Turned to Look Way Up
  11. “You Can’t Stop This Kid!”

The ninth post in a series looking at Aristides Aquino’s home run streak.

Aquino’s home run streak had become such a phenomenon the Nats broadcast made a graphic for it.

Home Run #9

Aquino’s #8 home run on homer in Washington on Monday was followed by a hitless Tuesday over four at bats. But home run #9 came the next day in the series’ get-away game. Aquino was batting in the 7th inning, his fourth plate appearance of the day. Manager David Bell had Aquino batting fifth with Josh VanMeter batting cleanup and Jesse Winker (remember him?) leading off.

The Reds were behind 17-4 and about to be swept. The game was so hopeless, Bell let Jared Hughes lead off the 7th.

#9 wasn’t one of Aquino’s longest, or hardest hit home runs. What’s notable was that it’s one of the few Aquino has hit on a pitch out of the strike zone. The ball barely cleared the right field fence.

Here is the graphic display.

[Graphic: Baseball Savant]

The Pitch

The Nationals had summoned Javy Guerra to bring the game in for a landing, to pitch the final three innings after a Stephen Strasburg start.

Guerra is nowhere near being the Nationals regular closer. The Nats had claimed him off waivers in May. The Toronto Blue Jays had demoted Guerra to AAA before they outright released him. Guerra (33) is a journeyman. He’d never been traded. Five times he got on with a new team after being released by his previous one. Washington was stop number six.

No surprise, Guerra struck out Hughes on three pitches to bring up Aquino. With one out and trailing by 13 runs, The Punisher wasn’t terribly worried about drawing a walk. He was up there to swing. Guerra’s first pitch was a slider that caught the bottom of the strike zone and Aquino fouled it off. Guerra’s second pitch came in at 81.8 mph. Statcast thinks was a slider, but looks more like a lazy 6-to-12 curveball. Regardless, it was about to go on a ride into the record books.

The Hit

I doubt Aquino was looking for this pitch, but it came in slow enough he had time to adjust and react. Guerra’s breaking ball came down outside the strike zone and was maybe never in the zone. But Aquino had it timed, fully extended his arms and rocketed it to right field. Aquino hit the ball with an exit velocity of 102 mph. The launch angle of 31º had a higher arc than usual for his home runs. In fact, the only Aquino homer with a higher arc was the The One Off Yu Darvish. Here’s video of Aquino’s #9 in Washington. [Click on the picture to see the video.]

Note the full extension.

The History

With this hit, Aquino became the first player since 1900 to hit 9 home runs in his first 14 games. The 47 plate appearances it took him to get there were the fewest for a hitter ever.

The Game

RC+ Preview | RC+ Recap

The Reds lost 17-7. Matt Wilkes wrote this in the recap: “The Nationals scored 16 runs over the course of two innings against Trevor Bauer and Sal Romano, completing their sweep over the Reds in a 17-7 beatdown. Both pitchers gave up an average exit velocity of at least 90.0 mph. Romano was bashed for an average of 96.0 mph. Woof.”

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.