'Strong man' Santana powers one out

Massive home run off Cardinals closer a sight to be seen

'Strong man' Santana powers one out

ST. LOUIS -- Domingo Santana called it his best moment in the big leagues since his very first hit. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy called it "really, really huge."

Santana connected with Trevor Rosenthal's 98 mph fastball in the ninth and sent it 440 feet to center field for a two-out, two-run home run. It was Santana's first home run this season, and the difference in the Brewers' 6-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.

"[Rosenthal] has that riding fastball that rides up, and [Santana] got that top hand on it," Lucroy said. "That's pretty impressive. That's a strong man right there, to be able to do something like that and get the barrel on that ball. It was really, really huge, and what a big hit."

Equal credit went to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who batted before Santana and came back from a 1-and-2 count to work a walk from Rosenthal. Santana then looked at a breaking ball for Strike 1 before pouncing on a fastball to give the Brewers the lead.

Most of Santana's power is to right-center field, but that's a product of the pitchers, he said. "That's where the majority of the pitchers throw," Santana said. "I just try to extend my arms every time. The best hitters, they don't try to pull the ball. They react."

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Santana's mix of patience and power made him the Brewers' unconventional pick to bat leadoff this season, and the latter was on display from Wednesday's first pitch. He hit Mike Leake's opening offering to the wall in right field for a double, and later scored the Brewers' first run on Lucroy's two-out double.

"I'm so glad that I played a lot of leadoff in Spring Training," Santana said. "That loosened me up a little bit. Today was my first time ever jumping on the first pitch of the game. I was pretty scared, but I did it, and I put a really good swing on the pitch."

"There's going to be some strikeouts in there," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, "but the best thing is, he's a really dangerous hitter, hitting right off the bat. He's doing exactly what we need him to do."

Through the season's first eight games, Santana owns a .361 on-base percentage and a .258 batting average.

But it was his home run that stood out. It came against a stingy pitcher; Rosenthal entered the outing having surrendered 11 home runs in 240 1/3 Major League innings.

"I made a mistake over the plate that he was ready to hit," Rosenthal said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.