Domingo Santana has been very good lately as a pinch hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers. How good, you ask? In fact, he is approaching baseball immortality for his effectiveness, and his next pinch hit appearance will be rife with anticipation. Well, at least for me.
The major league record for consecutive pinch homeruns is three, held by two (rather obscure) players: Lee Lacy (1978), and Del Unser (1979). Two things: Lacy and Unser were both good baseball players; and that these happened in consecutive seasons is rather bizarre.
Santana has homered as a pinch hitter in his last two games. The first came on Sunday in the ninth inning against the Pirates, a drive to right that pulled Milwaukee within one at 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and following a dinger by Jesus Aguilar. Last night he led off the bottom of the fifth with a drive over the Brewer bullpen in deep left center, bumping the Crew’s lead to 2-0.
Back-to-back games with PH home runs! pic.twitter.com/S2S5Ebpzws— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 18, 2018
And it isn’t just the home runs. Sunday has five pinch hits in his last seven tries, including two doubles to match his two taters. He’s scored three times and driven in two. His slash line over that time is a ridiculous .714/.714/1.857, for an OPS of 2.571.
All of this comes on the heels of a disappointing season for Domingo. After a 2017 campaign that saw him firmly entrenched as the team’s right fielder, he got off to a slow start and never recovered. In 2017 he had 30 homers, scored 88 runs, drove in 85, and came in with a .278/.371/.505 slash, OPS .875. With the acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich the Brewers’ outfield was suddenly very crowded, what with Ryan Braun on the team as well, and Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips also in the mix.
Cain and Yelich were everything the Brewers hoped they would be (and now are probably MORE than the team hoped for), Braun was getting time at first base, and Broxton and Phillips were in the minors. Maverick was subsequently part of the trade for Mike Moustakas, and Keon toiled in AAA for much of the season. Santana was given a mostly full-time opportunity to start the season, but in 211 plate appearances he could only muster a .249/.313/.354 slash for an OPS of .667. He had just three home runs.
Plus, Santana had one thing that several others on the team didn’t: an option to be sent to the minors. So that’s what Milwaukee did, and it has worked well for the team. And it would appear that Domingo has worked hard during his time at AAA Colorado Springs; he has come back as a September call-up ready to roll.
Santana’s success will once again make for an interesting offseason for Milwaukee, no matter what happens the rest of the way. The logjam of outfielders will remain; Yelich, Cain, and Braun aren’t going anywhere. Broxton and Santana will be out of options. Something’s gotta give.
But for now, I’m just very happy for Domingo’s success this month. And I’ll be on the edge of my seat tonight as the fifth inning approaches and Sunday Time on Tuesday approaches.