Michael Perez hits three home runs to lead the Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Andrew McCutchen didn’t move his feet. He didn’t need it. They had. As Michael Perez’s third home run sailed through the Pittsburgh night sky, the Brewers right fielder placed his hands on his hips and took a thousand-yard stare. He wasn’t going to watch Perez complete his dance with history.

A day after Bryan Reynolds hit three home runs, Perez followed it up with a line as the Pirates beat the Brewers, 8-7, Thursday night at PNC Park. It was a fitting end to a month, or rather a week and a half, which has now been defined by the trifecta.

“I still believe in myself, that I can do my best every day,” Perez said. “Being part of this and winning feels good.”

Along with Reynolds and Perez, Jack Suwinski himself hit three home runs on Father’s Day, an afternoon he capped off with a walk-off. This trio’s efforts made the Pirates the first team in AL/NL history to have three different players record three-homer games in the same month. No other team in 2022 has had more than one instance of a player hitting three homers in the same month.

“It’s strange,” manager Derek Shelton said. “I don’t know. I think since I’ve been here I’ve seen a ton of different things. Why don’t we just add three guys hitting three homers in the same month. It’s kind of interesting that it’s never been happened before.

With Reynolds and Perez flexing their muscles in consecutive games, the Bucs became the second team in AL/NL history to have players hit three home runs in consecutive games, joining the Braves, who saw Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall achieve the feat on September 1 and 2, 2020, respectively.

With just over three months to go, the Pirates will have plenty of opportunities to make even more history. The record for three-home run games by a team in a season is four, which was accomplished by the 1950 Dodgers, 1956 Reds and 2001 Brewers.

“It’s fun,” said JT Brubaker, who allowed four runs and struck out six in six innings. “It’s always great to see our guys leave the court like that. There’s really nothing you can say. Celebrate and have fun with it.”

Each of Perez’s home runs was hit harder and further than the last. The first, a two-point shot, traveled 377 feet projected by Statcast at 98.5 mph. The second, which nearly cleared the right field bleachers, traveled 391 feet at 103.0 mph. For his final, his only real certainty of the evening, Perez hit his third 408ft at 103.3mph – one that moved McCutchen with statuesque grace.

“He has the ability to drive baseball, especially on the pull side,” Shelton said. “He hits the ball hard. It’s just about making sure he’s on time to get there, and tonight he was on time.

Perez entered Game 1 of the series with .129 – the lowest season batting average a player has had in a three-home run game in AL/NL history (minimum 75 stick before the game). He had no idea during batting practice that this was going to be a special night. He went through his pre-game routine as usual. His mindset was just to compete, and he did.

When Brewers manager Craig Counsell was asked if his club considered Perez a home run threat, he kept his answer very pragmatic.

“He hit three home runs, so I guess you can say yes,” Counsell said.

Perez’s attacking outburst came on a night when the Pirates reached five goals in total, the other two coming off the bats of Oneil Cruz and Suwinski through back-to-back jacks in the second set. It was a fitting end to a month in which the Pirates hit 44 home runs, the second most they’ve hit in a single calendar month in franchise history.

Said Shelton before the match: “I think we’re getting better momentum, and I think it’s getting warmer. There were balls we hit early in the season, especially at this stadium, that didn’t come out. Then when you have two three-homer games, that definitely helps.

In less than two weeks, Perez, Reynolds and Suwinski orchestrated a statistical aberration the game, in its entire history, had never seen before. There will probably never be another team whose line hits a line again in the same month. That is, unless the Pirates have prepared a little something extra for July.

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