MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When it came off his bat, it looked as if Class AAA Memphis infielder Delvin Perez got all of a 1-1 slider from Gwinnett right-hander Jacob Webb on Thursday night at AutoZone Park.
Perez launched Webb's pitch high into the Memphis night sky and sent left fielder Justyn-Henry Malloy back to the warning track.
So, as one tends to do on what appears to be a no-doubt homer, Perez flipped his bat, put his head down, and went into his home run trot.
Unfortunately for Perez, that wasn’t how it played out.
"When I got to home plate, the guys were saying, ‘That didn’t go out.’ And I started thinking, ‘I can't believe it,'" Perez said in Spanish.
His teammates were right.
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Perez’s fly ball that reportedly jumped off his at-bat at 107 mph was fielded with ease by Malloy on the edge of the warning track where the dirt meets the outfield grass.
But with his head down and spirits high, the 23-year-old rounded first, then second, and then third. Just like his fly ball that stopped short of the wall, Perez’s trot stopped short of home plate when he looked up realized what had happened thanks in part to his teammates who were shouting from the Memphis dugout.
"People who know about this ballpark know that that ball was going out, but obviously the wind knocked it down," he said. "I’ve batted a lot in this ballpark. From the moment I hit it, I heard the catcher say, 'Oh my God,' and I thought, ‘It’s gone.’”
The fly-out left the Memphis dugout in shock, too. Perez was first greeted at the by outfielder Moises Gomez, who stood with his hands on his head, and catcher Ivan Herrera.
Then the jokes ensued.
“Everyone was laughing and just saying, ‘Wow,’ like nobody could believe it,” Perez said. “It was 107 (mph) off the bat. 107 has to leave. It's obligated to. And those who understand know that the wind knocked it down.”
The home run would have snapped a 26-game stretch without a home run for Perez that dates back to July 24.
That end of that drought will have to wait for another day. For now, all Perez can do is laugh it off.
“In reality, I take that as just a funny moment in my career,” he said. “Those are things that happen. It wasn’t the first or the only one.”
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