On a calm June night in Cincinnati, Scooter Gennett brought the thunder. He went 5-5 with four home runs and ten RBI. It was among the greatest offensive performances in the history of the game.
This isn’t a stretch of the imagination. It isn’t bias towards the current era of baseball. It’s not raving about a mildly known player and the joy of watching him “have a day”. It’s simply a hitting performance unlike the game has ever seen.
For those who didn’t witness it, here’s what happened.
The Night Scooter Gennett Made Baseball History
To start, this was never a game — Cincinnati led 10-0 after four innings. Adam Wainwright gave up three walks, seven hits and nine earned runs while only producing eleven outs. His ERA raised a full run and it abruptly ended a stretch where he had allowed one earned run in 32.1 innings. The catalyst of his outing started in the first inning. After allowing a Billy Hamilton lead-off single, Wainwright produced back-to-back ground outs. He then plunks Eugenio Suarez, bringing Gennett to the plate.
Wainwright left a 1-0 fastball over the plate and Gennett blooped the offering into left field, scoring Hamilton. It was a great start for Scooter. He came into the game with a 1-19 showing his last seven appearances. Gennett was a budding star with the Brewers in 2014 and was well-liked by the Milwaukee faithful. Yet, they still felt the need to place him on waivers just over two months ago.
That’s when Cincinnati snagged him. He showed his gratitude in his next four at-bats, producing the best offensive showing of any player to ever wear a Reds uniform.
Wainwright calmed down after the Gennett single, retiring the next five batters he faced, including forcing Hamilton to ground out to start the third inning. This is when the wheels fell off. Over his next 1.1 innings, Wainwright allowed eight earned runs on five hits and three walks. He walked Zack Cozart after Hamilton, then gave up a single to Joey Votto, advancing Cozart to third. After a dropped foul ball by right-fielder Stephen Piscotty, Suarez was walked, bringing Gennett to the plate.
Scooter worked the count full, then received a straight and narrow fastball that he drove into the right field seats. Wainwright could only watch as the feeling crept in that this game was pushing toward getting out of hand. Of course, most people won’t remember that Wainwright pitched this game. Furthermore, no one could have predicted what was to come from Scooter Gennett.
For the St. Louis Cardinals, the players are starting to pack it in for tomorrow. Suarez laced a bases-clearing triple to the left-center gap, increasing the lead to 8-0 and ending Wainwright’s night. The Cardinals brought right-handed spot starter John Gant in to replace Wainwright. The first batter he faced was Scooter Gennett.
Gennett worked another full count, received another fastball down the heart of the plate and thrashed over the center field wall. What a performance by Scooter Gennett so far! In three at-bats, he’s amassed nine bases, driven in seven runs, and has almost single-handedly moved his team past St. Louis in the Wild Card and NL Central standings. Tough to beat that performance…
The night of celebration had calmed heading into the sixth inning. Cincinnati still lead 10-0 and was nine outs away from completion. With that said, the crowd livened when Gennett stepped to the plate. Gant and his stutter-step delivery were still on the mound. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina set up for the 3-1 pitch to be low and outside. Instead, the fastball was up and covered just enough of the plate for Gennett to slash it down the left field line, crashing towards the seats.
Gant was disgusted, probably due to missing as badly as he did with the pitch. Then again, surely pitchers aren’t too fond of tossing up multiple home runs in a game, especially to the same hitter. Rounding second base, Scooter shot a smile across his face. This was obviously a great feeling for a hitter — the difference between the number of multi-homer games and three homer games is staggering. But maybe his smirk came with the thought of an opportunity to make ultimate history with one more at-bat. It was the only thought in the Great American grandstands.
It’s the bottom of the eight inning. Cardinals reliever John Brebbia replaced Gant. St. Louis also made a defensive switch to keep Jhonny Peralta in the game after pinch-hitting for Gant. None of it mattered. Scooter Gennett was trying for four home runs.
Scooter was one strike away from failing history. Instead, he drove another fastball, this time striking just over the right field power alley. The crowd went ballistic at the crack of the bat, crescendoing into euphoria. Gennett could hardly believe it — he shook his head in disbelief after rounding each base.
The tally was then official: 5-5, four home runs, ten RBI, seventeen total bases. Scooter Gennett was finally entrenched in baseball lore.
There have been many players produce a five-for-five game, a four home run game, or a ten RBI game. Yet, no one had done it all in the same game, as Gennett did.
There are performances just as memorable. Mark Whiten in 1993 for St. Louis went 4-5 with four home runs and twelve RBI, the only other player to amass four and ten in a game. But, Gennett was perfect at the plate and doesn’t have control over who was on base when he hit his homers. Edge Gennett.
Shawn Green has an argument with his 6-6 display in 2002, when he smacked four home runs and totaled nineteen bases, the major league record and two more than Gennett collected. With that said, there is one aspect that makes Gennett’s performance more appreciable.
Green was a known star in baseball heading into the 2002 season. He led the American League with 45 doubles in 1999 with the Toronto Blue Jays and produced a career-best year in 2001 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he hit the four home runs. Green was one of the best power hitters in the game from 1998 to 2004, averaging 34 home runs a season.
No one in Cincinnati, let alone baseball, expected a performance like this from Gennett. Scooter totaled only 35 home runs and a .427 slugging percentage heading into 2017. But on June 6, 2017, he bashed with the best of them.
The Greatness of Baseball
It’s through events like this that the greatness of baseball cane be understood. In other sports, coaches can choose who will produce in the moment. Bench-riding three-point specialists don’t score 50 points. Backup quarterbacks don’t throw four touchdown passes. Yet, a utility-fielding, waiver-wire pickup for a rebuilding team days before the start of the season — at any given moment — has the opportunity to put forth a performance unlike others before him.
Scooter Gennett did just that, and is now cemented in the history books for eternity.