Big, beautiful and barely half-full most nights, San Diego’s Petco Park has long been considered a pitching oasis and wasteland for power hitters.
In four of its eight seasons of existence, the Padres’ home stadium has ranked 29th or 30th (dead last) in home runs per game. And with power alleys of 401 feet in left field and 400 in right, it’s easy to see why.
Last week the Padres began discussing the prospect of bringing in the fences to make their ballpark more fair to hitters. But on Monday night reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun reminded baseball’s sluggers that no outfield wall is too deep to conquer.
Braun smashed one home run into the sandbox in center field, another into the upper balcony of the warehouse down in the left-field corner and a third into the left-field bleachers. His bombs traveled 419, 416 and 381 feet respectively, and his was the first three-homer night in Petco history.
(Here’s the video on MLB.com)
The performance was also Braun’s first three-home run game. And he added a two-run triple for good measure.
“It’s definitely special,” Braun said. “It’s an extremely challenging game we play. You’re going to deal with a lot of failure, a lot of adversity, and when you have a special night like that you try to enjoy it and it’s that much more fun and enjoyable when your team wins the game. It was definitely a pretty cool night.”
Braun’s big night helped shake a sluggish first month to his MVP follow-up campaign. He came into the game hitting .263 with only four home runs and 11 RBIs. The 4 for 5, 6-RBI performance boosted his average to .294 and his OPS to .994.
After a difficult offseason in which he successfully appealed a 60-game ban for testing positive for a banned substance, Braun knows he’ll be under the microscope all season. And he — and the rest of the league — are currently playing in the shadow of Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp (12 home runs, 25 RBIs). But Monday served as a loud reminder that he’s still one of the game’s best hitters.
As for bringing in the fences at Petco?
“There’s no doubt this is one of the more challenging if not the most challenging place to hit home runs in the league,” he told reporters. “I think for fans, you want to see offense. Offense is exciting when teams are scoring runs. It’s a lot of fun for the fans to watch. So I think if they did do that, it would make it more of a neutral ballpark. As of right now it certainly favors pitchers pretty substantially.”