BALTIMORE — Austin Hays wasn’t quite sure. He first turned around to make sure Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was OK after grazing him on the follow-through of his swing. Hays then took a Sammy Sosa-esque hop out of the batter’s box, needing to confirm that the ball he just walloped would remain fair. That was the only question.
By the time it landed a projected 464 feet away from home plate, there was no sliver of doubt.
That kind of power — historic power — was on display when Hays hammered his solo home run in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s homer-happy 9-3 win over the Cubs. Since Statcast began tracking in 2015, only three other balls at Oriole Park at Camden Yards have been hit as far as Hays’ shot.
As for the overall history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards — regardless of Statcast tracking — it was one of only seven balls hit to left field’s second deck, and just the fourth by an Oriole. Among those blasts, only Edwin Encarnación’s 466-foot shot and Manny Machado’s 465-foot blast — both hit in 2017 — beat out Hays’, but only by a matter of mere inches.
In Hays’ career arc, it was the farthest ball he’s hit … by a margin of 43 feet. It comes as part of a breakout year, as he’s been the O’s most consistent batter and is likely their best hope of a position player entrant for the All-Star Game in July.
Hays’ blast had plenty of company on Tuesday night. It was one of five homers the Orioles hit to pick up Kyle Bradish’s 4 2/3-inning outing. Two came on the O’s first two at-bats of the game. But none of them — including the two struck by the Cubs — were as prodigious as Hays’.