D-backs INF Christian Walker’s homer off Clayton Kershaw ruined a meal
Diamondbacks reserve Christian Walker hasn’t had the easiest time adjusting to so few at-bats this season.
Yet, Arizona has kept the infielder on board for 14 games so far in 2018, hoping that his 1-for-13 month of April would eventually turn into more production at the plate. At a key moment Tuesday, the commitment to Walker paid off.
Pinch-hitting as the D-backs replaced starting pitcher Matt Koch as Arizona trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1, in the fifth inning, Walker flexed his powerful bat by turning on a Clayton Kershaw slider left high in the zone.
It left Walker’s bat at 114.4 mph and went 479 feet, making it the third-longest homer of the year, the second-longest by a Diamondback since StatCast began recording distances in 2015 and the longest off Kershaw — by 36 feet — in the last four years.
Better yet, it landed in the TGI Friday’s deck at Chase Field.
“That’s a souvenir. They can keep that one,” Walker said afterward. “It’s probably got ketchup on it or something.
“To be honest, I don’t pull many balls that way,” he added. “I’d say my power is probably middle of the field, maybe even a tick right-center. So to backspin a ball like that pull-side, it’s something special. It’s a unique feeling for me especially, but it’s always a good feeling when you hit a ball like that.”
See home plate way in the background. It’s from where Christian Walker hit this ball. It’s 478 feet away. 😳 pic.twitter.com/tReJNaE57s
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 2, 2018
Arguably more significant than pulling the D-backs to within a run of an eventual 4-3 victory, the second hit of the season for Walker could be a boost of confidence.
Last year with Triple-A Reno, he slashed .309/.382/.597, producing 32 home runs and 114 RBI. In 11 games with the Diamondbacks in 2017, he hit two home runs and a double in 12 at-bats.
“I’m not going to say we were flat-lined but, you know, we’re going up against Clayton Kershaw, who was throwing the ball very well,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo of Tuesday’s moon-shot. “Probably a very good feeling for him. I know the at-bats haven’t been very consistent.”