San Diego Padres: Daniel Camarena joins Slam Diego

Jul 8, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) places the Padres Swagg Chain on relief pitcher Daniel Camarena (right) after Camarena hit a grand slam home run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 8, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) places the Padres Swagg Chain on relief pitcher Daniel Camarena (right) after Camarena hit a grand slam home run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The San Diego Padres just will not stop hitting grand slams. After breaking out as Slam Diego last season, when the Padres had grand slams in four consecutive games, that run has continued in 2021. The Padres have hit five grand slams in 2021, with the most improbable occurring on Thursday.

Relief pitcher Daniel Camarena had never had an extra base hit in his 31 professional plate appearances heading into his at bat against Max Scherzer. Naturally, he changed that by hitting a grand slam, because Slam Diego.

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This was not even a bad pitch. Scherzer fired a 96 MPH fastball down and in, a solid offering considering a 1-2 count with two outs. As his previous pitches had been on the outer half, it made sense to change location. Instead, Camarena golfed that offering to right, hitting a 416 foot homer.

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That home run was a historic blast for several reasons. Until that moment, Scherzer had never allowed a homer to an opposing pitcher. Camarena not only became the first reliever to hit a grand slam since Don Robinson back in 1985, but he became the second pitcher in major league history to belt a grand slam for his first career hit, joining Bill Duggleby back in 1898.

Although Camarena struggled on the mound, allowing two runs on two hits over his two innings, he did his part to help the Padres cut into the lead. San Diego had been trailing 8-0 at one point in the game, with his blast cutting the lead to 8-6. Scherzer lasted only one more batter, as the Padres were able to get into the Nationals’ bullpen far sooner than anyone would have imagined.

These are the types of games that can spur a team forward. The Padres are in a tough battle for the division with the Dodgers and Giants, and need a winning streak in order to cut their four game deficit in the NL West. A comeback victory, with one of the unlikeliest of heroes, could be the catalyst needed to make the NL West that much closer.

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Daniel Camarena will live forever in MLB history. The San Diego Padres’ relief pitcher belted a grand slam for his first hit, showing that Slam Diego is alive and well.