San Diego Padres rookie pitcher Daniel Camarena has quickly made the highlight reels in only his second MLB game. He came up in the biggest moment in his short career and did not disappoint.
The Long Road
At the 629th pick in the 2011 MLB draft the New York Yankees drafted Daniel Camarena. Undoubtedly he understood that he was going to have to spend a little time in the minors before getting his chance at the top.
Unfortunately, Camarena spent a bit longer in the minors than most. He spent seven and a half seasons in the minor leagues with the New York Yankees, San Fransisco Giants, Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres. In those seven plus years he has played 160 games putting up a 37-51 record with a 4.26 ERA.
He did not put up big numbers and sadly got lost in the crowd. It is especially difficult to stand out in the farm system of the Yankees who have unlimited talent.
After the Padres picked up his contract he immediately made an impact. The week of June 7-13, 2021 Camarena was named Triple-A West pitcher of the week.
After battling for his chance to make it to the majors he finally got his opportunity with his hometown team.
First Day in the Spotlight
On June 19th the Padres brought Camarena up to the big league level. At 28 years old he got his chance. The Padres took on the Cincinnati Reds in San Diego.
He came into the game for his MLB debut in the top of the third inning. His first two batters were going to be a serious test as he had to face Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos who were hitting .344 and .341 respectively. He got both of them out with two ground outs. He capped off the inning with his first MLB strikeout.
In the fourth inning he gave up a walk and a single to the first two batters of the inning. He settled down and Retired the next three hitters.
In the fifth he gave up back-to-back singles before getting the next two guys out. Unfortunately he gave up an RBI single to Tyler Naquin which knocked him out of the game. The Reds tacked on two more runs in the inning which were charged to Camarena.
After giving up three runs in 2.2 innings he was sent back down to Triple-A.
Impacting a Wild Game
The Padres brought him back up on July 8th hoping he could bounce back. The chances of seeing him come into this game on Thursday were not high. This is due to the incredible pitching matchup. The Padres were facing off at home against the Washington Nationals. The Nats sent out ace Max Scherzer and the Padres sent out ace Yu Darvish.
The game was not as expected. Darvish was pulled from the game after only three innings because he gave up eight hits which resulted in six runs. This meant it was time for Camarena to get back out there.
After striking out Scherzer to start the inning he gave up a single and then a two-run homer by Trea Turner to put the Nationals up 8-0. It started as well as his last time ended.
A New Member of Slam Diego
Going into the bottom of the fourth inning the Padres were desperately in need of some runs. The inning started with a Tatis solo homer and in the next six batters there were two strikeouts, two hit by pitches, one single and one bases loaded walk. Down 8-2, bases loaded and two outs for the rookie.
Instead of sending out a pinch hitter, the Padres let Camarena bat. For a pitcher like Scherzer this is a golden opportunity to get out of the inning without any more damage. Camarena had other plans.
On a 1-2 pitch Camarena crushed a pitch below the zone out into the right field seats for a grand slam. With one swing of the bat Daniel Camarena became a legend and a hero in San Diego.
He made a little bit of history with this slam. In fact, this was the first home run that Scherzer has given up to a pitcher in his career. This was the fifth time in history a reliever hit a grand slam, the first since 1985. The only other time a reliever hit a slam for their first career hit was Bill Duggleby in 1898.
This is an incredibly rare feat and it was only right that it happened in what many call Slam Diego.
In two appearances in the MLB Daniel Camarena has given up five runs in 4.2 innings pitched, on the contrary, he is 1-2 at the plate with a grand slam. This is a guy with a lot of determination who will keep putting in the work to stay in the big leagues long term.
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