PHOENIX (AP) — The best swing of Buddy Kennedy’s short big league career is one that wasn’t supposed to happen.
The Diamondbacks rookie smashed a grand slam on a three-ball, no-strike count after forgetting to look at the third base coach for the take sign, and it led Arizona to a 7-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
“You better hit a grand slam if you’re going to swing away,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said grinning.
Kennedy said he got swept up in the emotion of his first big league at-bat with the bases loaded and more than 30,000 fans in the stands. He forgot the count and didn’t even look at third base coach Tony Perezchica. Turns out it was for the best: He turned on a high fastball and launched it into the left field seats.
Only when he returned to the dugout did he realize he might have messed up.
“It was 2-0, right?” Kennedy asked.
“No, it was 3-0,” responded one of his teammates.
“I take responsiblity, that’s my fault,” Kennedy said. “The moment got to me.”
Christian Walker added two solo homers and Pavin Smith hit another solo shot. Smith snapped an 0-for-23 streak skid in the second inning with a single.
Merrill Kelly (6-4) threw seven effective innings as the D-backs built their lead. The right-hander gave up one run on five hits, striking out five and walking none.
The Diamondbacks took two of three games in the series.
The 23-year-old Kennedy’s grand slam came in just his ninth MLB at-bat and was his first big league homer. He took a hearty swing on the 3-0 fastball from Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar and didn’t miss, crushing a pitch that came off his bat at 105 mph.
“It’s just a blur,” Kennedy said. “Running the bases, I felt like a little kid in Little League when you hit your first home…