WASHINGTON - Yan Gomes was just 24 years old - and a third baseman to boot - when he hit the first homer of his Major League career on May 18, 2012.
More than eight years later and now a veteran catcher, Gomes recorded his first homer of the season and the 100th homer of his career when he went deep for a solo shot in the last of the second here Friday night at Nationals Park against the Marlins.
According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Gomes is the first player born in Brazil to hit 100 homers.
“It’s kind of wild,” Gomes said after the 3-2 loss. “I thought it was never going to happen. It was a grind to get there. I’m glad it happened. I’m very glad to reach that kind of milestone.”
Gomes noted he was robbed of a homer near the end of last season then had a triple on August 14 at Baltimore – his teammates joked it should have been an inside-the-park homer. “Guys were making fun of me,” he said.
But this Friday, Gomes left no doubt as he blasted his homer. It was just the second homer in his career against the Marlins in 13 starts.
“There were so many people that were a part of it,” Gomes said. “It is something for sure I was definitely thinking about. I knew I was coming close. It is a little personnel milestone I can take back … just playing this game has been an honor.”
“That’s awesome – congratulations to him,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He works really hard. Hopefully, he gets his 101st” on Saturday.
The starting pitcher for the Nationals on Friday was lefty Patrick Corbin, who is good friends with Gomes.
“That is awesome to see. I know he has been waiting for that all year,” said Corbin, who added he had a gift to give the former University of Tennessee standout.
The homer extended his hitting streak to six games and came against the hometown team of Gomes, who went to high school in Miami and played there at Barry University before transferring to Tennessee.
Gomes was a third baseman for the Blue Jays when he hit a homer in the second game of his career, against Jon Niese of the New York Mets in 2012. It was one of just seven games Gomes played at third in his MLB career while he has been behind the plate for 683 contests.
In that game against the Mets, the Blue Jays won 14-5 while Daniel Murphy - who would later play for the Nationals - was the starting second baseman for the Mets.
Gomes is the son-in-law of former MLB pitcher Atlee Hammaker, who went to Mount Vernon High in Fairfax County and played at East Tennessee State University. Hammaker played from 1981-95 and gave up a grand slam to Fred Lynn of the Orioles in the 1983 All-Star game while a member of the Giants.
Corbin gave up a three-run home run Friday as the Nats lost the first game of the series.
“He kept us in the ballgame,” Gomes said. “He gave us a heck of an outing. We wish we could have picked him up.” Gomes, at least, did his part.