In Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Raimel Tapia hit the first inside-the-park grand slam in Major League Baseball since 2017. In the top of the third inning, Tapia’s bases-clearing strike gave the Blue Jays a commanding 10-0 lead.
The majority of inside-the-park home runs are the result of a fielder diving and missing the ball or having it ricochet violently away from them. Not so in this instance. Instead, outfielder Jarren Duran lost Tapia’s high fly ball to the center-field warning track in the sky.
The ball was bouncing off the wall when Duran finally turned around and noticed it, but he didn’t make much of an effort to get it. Instead, that responsibility went to left fielder Alex Verdugo, who returned the ball to the infield much too late to have a chance at catching the quick Tapia. (Tapia’s sprint speed, a statistic recorded by Statcast that tries to quantify raw speed, is in the 74th percentile.)
Tapia was originally acquired from the Colorado Rockies in March in exchange for fellow outfielder Randal Grichuk. He has played in a platoon position and has faced right-handed pitchers about 90% of the time. He had four home runs, five stolen bases, and a season batting line of.275/.300/.388 (93 OPS+) going into Friday night’s game (on six tries).
The last inside-the-park grand slam was hit on September 8, 2017, by current Kansas City Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor, according to research by MLB.com’s Sarah Langs. Meanwhile, according to Baseball Reference’s Stathead database, Ezequiel Carrera hit the last inside-the-park home run for the Blue Jays on May 6, 2017.