If you entered Thursday having not heard of Daniel Camarena, you could be forgiven.
The San Diego Padres minor leaguer is 28 years old, was playing for his fourth career organization and held a 5.24 ERA at the Triple-A level. That's not typically the resume of a future All-Star.
He was one of two pitchers the Padres called up from Triple-A El Paso on Thursday — his second callup of the season — to get some fresh arms into their bullpen, but San Diego only used him once the team fell behind 6-0 to the Washington Nationals thanks to a rough outing from ace Yu Darvish. He proceeded to allow two more earned runs in his first inning of work.
And then, well, Daniel Camarena became the answer to some very hard trivia questions.
That happened because, in his second career MLB plate appearance, Camarena, a San Diego area native, went up to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs and Nationals ace (and future Hall of Famer) Max Scherzer on the mound. He did this for his first career MLB hit:
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) July 9, 2021
Another angle, in which you can see Camarena's full trip around the bases:
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 9, 2021
Let's get some context here:
As a minor leaguer, Camarena was a career .179/.207/.179 hitter. Basically, he was 5-for-28 at the plate without an extra-base hit. The grand slam was the Camarena's first extra-base hit as a professional baseball player.
Meanwhile, pitchers against Scherzer had also hit .085/.108/.097, a 30-for-351 line with five doubles and no home runs. The grand slam was the first home run Scherzer ever allowed to a pitcher.
Grand slams by relievers are also more rare as a baseball event than a four-home run game, a perfect game or a cycle. Only five relievers have ever hit a homer with the bases loaded, the most recent being Don Robinson in 1985, per MLB.com's Sarah Langs.
The only other pitcher to hit a grand slam for his first career hit was Bill Duggleby ... in 1898.
Add that all up, and we may literally be talking about the most unlikely grand slam in the history of Major League Baseball.
The Padres made a concerted effort to turn grand slams into their identity last season, and yet this may be a moment that transcends "Slam Diego." They say you see something new at the ballpark every day, but Camarena's long fly ball essentially broke the bounds of probability and maybe even possibility. All with his family in attendance.
"I was just trying to put something in play, just give us a chance. I didn't think I would ever do that," Camarena said after the game. "Honestly, when I hit first base and I saw the lights flashing, that's when I realized I hit a home run. It's been like 10 years since I've hit a home run."
Those four runs also went a long way, as the Padres — again, down 8-0 at one point — eventually came all the way back for a walk-off win via a single from Trent Grisham. The team is now 52-38, four games back from the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West.
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