Ian Desmond's seventh home run of the season and his second in the last four games was a 453 foot blast to center field in Citizens Bank Park in the fourth inning of the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies. Desmond took a hanging 2-2 slider from rookie right-hander Severino Gonzalez for a ride, sending one out to the second-to-last row in front of Ashburn Alley.
According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker and Stats and Info Twitter account, Desmond's blast was the third longest of his career, the longest by a Nationals' player this season and the second-longest in Citizens Bank Park, behind only Giancarlo Stanton's 454 foot home run to straight center in CBP on April 21st.
Ian Desmond: 453-foot HR - 3rd-longest of career - Longest by a Nationals player this season - 2nd-longest at Citizens Bank Park this year— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 28, 2015
"[Gonzalez] hung that slider to Desmond and got burnt on it," Phillies' skipper Pete Mackanin told reporters after Philadelphia's 8-5 win.
Impressive as the home runs was, and it was impressive, as was Desmond's subtle bat flip, Nationals' manager Matt Williams pointed to the struggling shortstop's seventh inning at bat against hard-throwing Philly righty Ken Giles as one that was a good sign the 29-year-old slugger is seeing the ball better lately.
"I thought the best at bat he had today was against Giles," Williams said. "The walk."
"Stuck within the strike zone, and didn't chase the ball up, didn't chase the ball down and away, so he's seeing it good against him and of course the homer, but those kind of at bats, like his last one will get him right again."
Desmond 1. took a 96 mph first-pitch fastball up high inside, 2. fouled off a strike high/just inside on a 97 mph heater, 3. took an 86 mph slider up high for a ball 4. took a 97 mph fastball down and away for a ball 5. fouled off a 97 mph knee-high fastball that was a strike and 6. took a 98 mph FB up high for ball four and his third walk in the last ten games and just his 15th free pass this season.
Desmond talked last week about seeing the ball better after he hit his sixth home run in the Nats' 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
"Two strikes I laid off some balls in the dirt," Desmond said, "which has been a struggle lately. I'm seeing the ball a lot better and was able to get one out of the park today."
"He stayed on a fastball away and hit it over the fence and then got another base hit later in the game," Williams said that night.
"I'm happy for him that he was able to hit that homer and the ball the other way and the ball back through the middle are really good signs. It means he's staying on it, he's seeing it good, hope that will get him hot and get him rolling."
Desmond has hits in each of his last four games and five of the last six, over which he's 6 for 23 with two home runs, two walks and five Ks.
On the year, in his contract year, Desmond has a .225/.269/.356 line with 17 doubles and seven home runs in 74 games and 311 plate appearances.
After 74 games and 310 PAs in 2014, Desmond had a .235/.294/.428 line with nine doubles and 14 home runs on the season.
He finished the year at .255/.313/.430 with 26 doubles and 24 HRs, turning things around with a .292/.344/.461 month of July. Can he do it again?
He does have a .285/.337/.432 line in the second half over his seven major league seasons, as compared to his .253/.296/.420 first-half line so far in his career.
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