Slam Diego: Daniel Camarena hits most improbable home run in MLB history

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Daniel Camarena seemed like no match for Nationals ace Max Scherzer, but, on Thursday night at Petco Park, he had himself a moment off the future Hall of Famer.

Max Scherzer and Daniel Camarena are polar opposites.

Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young Award winner and future Hall of Famer. Camarena is a career minor leaguer, playing only his second game in the Majors on Thursday night at the age of 28. But, for one glorious moment at Petco Park, he came out on top of what seemed like a massive mismatch.

Scherzer and the Washington Nationals were cruising against the Padres. He took an 8-0 lead into the fourth inning, allowing only a single baserunner the first time through the order. Then the drama happened as the Padres lived up to the nickname “Slam Diego.”

Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his 28th home run of the season to make it 8-1. Scherzer hit two batters and walked Wil Myers to load the bases and score another run, but after striking out Victor Caratini for the second out, it looked like he would escape the inning without further damage. Stepping into the batter’s box was Camarena, who came on in relief of Padres starter Yu Darvish in the top half of the inning.

San Diego Padres: Daniel Camarena’s first big-league hit is a special one

Camarena had never homered in a professional career that dates back to 2012. The Padres are his fifth different organization, including three different stints with the Yankees. He made his Major League debut, after nearly a decade in the minors, on June 19.

Scherzer got to a 1-2 count on the Padres reliever. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he threw Camarena a 97 mph fastball low and out of the zone. Camarena swung and did the unthinkable; he took the pitch 416 feet into the seats in right-field for a grand slam.

It was the first home run Scherzer had ever allowed against an opposing pitcher, and only the fourth grand slam he’s given up. Camarena became the first relief pitcher to hit a grand slam since Pittsburgh’s Don Robinson on Sept. 12, 1985.

The Padres ended up scoring seven runs off Scherzer, only the second time in his career he’s given up that many runs in a single inning; he also gave up seven on June 17, 2014. A game that an inning earlier seemed well in hand for the Nationals was suddenly down to a one-run deficit. Scherzer was eventually lifted for relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan to finish the inning.

The home run was Camarena’s first hit of his big-league career that he waited so long for. It was a moment he’ll never forget.

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