Watch: Mariners’ J.P. Crawford hits leadoff HR to rare area

May 24, 2024, 7:00 PM | Updated: May 25, 2024, 4:00 pm

Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners during a 2024 game. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P Crawford recently returned to the lineup after a right oblique strain that sidelined him for nearly a month, and he showed why the team thrust him right back into the leadoff role against the Washington Nationals.

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Crawford led off Friday’s 6-1 loss at Nationals Park by punishing a fastball from left-hander MacKenzie Gore into an area of the crowd he’s never gone to as a big leaguer. The left-handed hitting shortstop ambushed a middle-middle 97 mph fastball from Gore for a 399-foot solo homer that exited the bat at 104.9 mph, per Statcast.

Leading off a game with a home run isn’t unique for Crawford, as he’d done it nine times in his career entering Friday’s matchup. It’s where Crawford hit the ball that was out of the norm. Most of Crawford’s 48 other career home runs have come to his pull side in right field, and he’s hit the occasional home run to straightaway center. However, Crawford had never hit a home run to the left of straightaway center in his big league career, according to Baseball Savant spray charts.

The homer was Crawford’s third of the season, first off of a left-handed pitcher and first since he returned from the injured list on May 20. It was also just the second home run Gore allowed to left-handed batter this season. The Nationals’ 25-year-old starter entered the game sporting a 2-4 record and 3.30 ERA over 46 1/3 innings pitched.

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Watch: Mariners’ J.P. Crawford hits leadoff HR to rare area