Mariners' Miller, Rays' Zobrist go deep to make history
Leadoff hitters contribute opening jacks, second homers for second time since 1916
The role of a conventional leadoff hitter is for the player to reach base and set things up for the club's mashers.
The team won't complain, though, if the leadoff man goes deep, especially if it contributes to a historical feat.
Seattle's Brad Miller and Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist joined forces to make baseball history in the Mariners' 5-4 win on Tuesday. For the second time in MLB history, both leadoff hitters homered in their first at-bat and socked a second long ball in the same game. Minnesota's Chuck Knoblauch and Detroit's Tony Phillips first accomplished the feat on June 5, 1994.
"I was just trying to get things going and I hit a ball I was hoping had enough to get out of there, and it did," Miller said. "I was just flying around the bases. I don't know, just kind of blacking out a little. But it felt really good."
Miller and Zobrist both homered in the fifth inning after their opening jacks on Tuesday.
"I haven't been hitting a lot of home runs lately, so it was kind of interesting to see two leadoff guys do that," Zobrist said.
Tuesday's power display also marked the third time in MLB history that the leadoff batters both hit two homers in the same game. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan did it for the Astros as part of a six-hit performance on July 8, 1965. In that contest, Milwaukee's Felipe Alou also clubbed a pair of round-trippers from the top spot in the order.
Miller and Zobrist are the 35th pair of leadoff hitters to both swat home runs in the first inning, according to SABR's David Vincent. It last occurred on Aug. 31, 2011, when Milwaukee's Corey Hart and St. Louis' Rafael Furcal each went yard in the opening frame.
Zobrist's leadoff shot on Tuesday was his 100th career homer.
"I certainly didn't expect that when I think back to my first one in 2006," Zobrist said. "It's a cool milestone. I'll keep that ball and remember it. It was pretty fun."
Miller, who grew up in Orlando, said he was in attendance at Tropicana Field to witness Zobrist's first Major League home run. Miller was in high school at the time.
"I don't know why I remember that," Miller said. "But he hit some balls well tonight. I'm just glad he didn't do it in the last inning and we were able to close it out."