Joc Pederson’s home run in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 6-0 win over the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the National League Division Series wasn’t necessary. It was the last run in a rout, an exercise in excess, bacon on the doughnut.
But, wow, what a spectacle.
Pederson’s blast left his bat at 114.9 mph. Think of a car flying past yours at 114.9 mph. That’s Pederson’s home run. You puttering along at 65 mph is a rollover ground ball to second base.
At least a dozen major league home runs in 2019 were hit harder, led by three at 118.3 mph hit by Gary Sanchez, Pete Alonso and Aristides Aquino, according to MLB Statcast. But none of the Dodgers’ NL-record 279 home runs this season were hit as hard.
Pederson plays with a swagger but resisted the urge to gloat. After all, he’ll be in the lineup Friday against Stephen Strasburg in Game 2. “I think I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it and it was fun,” was about all he said.
He got a good pitch earlier in the count as well against Nationals reliever Hunter Strickland. He pounded a slider foul, into the upper deck of the right-field seats. Then he crushed another slider foul. Strickland went to his fastball and Pederson barreled it barely fair, the ball slamming high up into the signage attached to the inside of the foul pole. It would have traveled 437 feet had it continued in free flight.
The home run was meaningful only in that it was Exhibit A of a huge advantage the Dodgers hold in this series: They hit with extreme power, and the Nationals’ bullpen is porous to the extreme.