It should be said that if you spot a multiple Cy Young Award winner an 8-0 lead, probably it won’t be your night.
It should also be said that at the plate, it’s hardly ever a reliever’s night, if he even makes it up to bat in the first place.
That it did for Daniel Camarena on Thursday – it most decidedly did not for Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer. Camarena, 28, a Bonita native, pitched two innings, but more importantly, on the day he joined the big club, he hit a grand slam in a seven-run 4th inning as the Padres roared back into the game.
They tied the game in the 6th, setting the stage for Trent Grisham in the bottom of the ninth. Grisham hit a walk-off single to drive in Tommy Pham and complete the comeback with a 9-8 win.
But all eyes turned to a far unlikelier hero after the game. It not only was Camarena’s first grand slam, and his first career homer – it was his first big-league hit. The left hander said all he was thinking at the plate was “don’t strike out, put the ball in play.” That he did, with Scherzer ahead on a 1-2 count.
“It’s been like 10 years since I hit a home run,” he told Bally Sports San Diego after the game. “So that was crazy.”
He’s also been a minor leaguer for more than a decade who, according to MLB.com, will be remembered for Thursday’s feat because he’s:
- the second Padres pitcher to hit a grand slam, and the first in more than 50 years.
- the first reliever to hit a grand slam since 1985, when a Pittsburgh Pirate did it.
- the first pitcher to get his first hit from a grand slam since 1898.
“God, like two nights ago I was on a bus going from Albuquerque back to El Paso and I flash forward and I’m facing Max Scherzer … surreal moment,” Camarena said.
His also became the latest hometown boy to offer up a big moment for the Padres this season. El Cajon native Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres history in April.
With the win, the Padres split the four-game series with the Nationals. They now welcome the Colorado Rockies to town, at 7:10 p.m. Friday, before heading into the All-Star break.