A Padres pitcher who spent 9 years in the minors hit a historic grand slam off Max Scherzer for his first MLB hit

Daniel Camarena
Daniel Camarena of the San Diego Padres hits a grand slam home run in the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals on July 8, 2021 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images
  • Padres pitcher Daniel Camarena was called up from the minor leagues on Thursday.
  • Later that day he hit a grand slam off of Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
  • It was Camarena’s first MLB hit, and helped spark the Padres to a dramatic comeback victory.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The San Diego Padres pressed the right button by calling up Daniel Camarena on Thursday.

The 28-year-old relief pitcher delivered a hit that might echo throughout Petco Park for the rest of the season when he smacked a grand slam off Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the fourth inning.

For Camarena, it was his first career MLB hit, and it came in his hometown of San Diego, California just 35km away from Cathedral Catholic High School where he played as a teen. Camarena became just the second pitcher in baseball history who’s first hit was a grand slam, which hasn’t even happened since 1898. He also became the first relief pitcher to hit a grand slam since 1985.

Additionally, he is just the second pitcher in Padres franchise history to hit a grand slam as a pitcher, according to the research done by Sarah Langs of MLB.com.

“Oh my God, I blacked out,” he said to reporters after the game. “I hit first base and then all of a sudden I noticed the lights were flashing in the stadium and that’s when it kind of hit, like, Oh my God I just hit a home run. Not only that, a grand slam.”

For the Padres, Camarena’s hit helped spark a historic comeback.

The Nationals had taken an early 8-0 lead, but Camarena’s four-run blast cut the deficit to just 8-6. The Padres tied the game in the sixth inning, and then center fielder Trent Grisham hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to complete the comeback.

The Padres matched the record for the largest deficit overcome in franchise history, and it likely wouldn’t have been possible without Camarena’s home run.

“I think more than anything, everybody was in shock,” Grisham said of the slam. “Shock and excitement. We had four runs on the board and we were back in it.”

Camarena’s grand slam was the culmination of a near decade’s-long journey to the big leagues.

Camarena was drafted right out of high school by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He reached the triple-A level by 2016 but was demoted all the way back to single-A by the end of the season.

The Yankees released Camarena in August 2019, and he bounced around between the San Francisco Giants and Minnesota Twins organizations until he was picked up by the Padres in 2020.

The journey paid off for himself and for the Padres on Thursday with one of the most exciting moments of the 2021 baseball season.