Freddie Freeman was scheduled to start at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, but he was a late scratch due to an illness, which led to Miguel Vargas being inserted into the lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In his first at-bat of the game, Vargas stepped to the plate against Cardinals’ starter Jordan Montgomery following a single from Austin Barnes. Then on a 1-1 pitch, Vargas blasted a fastball to left-center field at 101.1 mph. The ball traveled 390 feet and cleared the fence for Vargas’ first Major League home run.
“I wasn’t really looking at the ball,” Vargas said. “I just saw it go, I just ran the bases and saw the crowd going wild, and put my head down and ran the bases.”
As Vargas approached third base, he let out a big smile as he was overcome with joy from hitting his first homer, although it looked like he may have been trying to control his emotion and retain some of the excitement.
“I don’t know what I do, and I’m just trying to enjoy and think about what happened,” Vargas said. “I don’t know, just enjoying the moment.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it was great to see Vargas hit his first homer and called it a “special moment.”
The 22-year-old comes from a baseball family as his father Lázaro played for the Cuban National Team. The Dodgers rookie said hitting his first career home run “means a lot” for his family.
“We always talked about all the moments and coming out here and it happened to me,” Vargas added. “And they’re really proud, and I have a lot of emotion in me. I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Albert Pujols congratulated Miguel Vargas
In the sixth inning, Albert Pujols singled and congratulated Vargas on his first career homer after he reached first base. “I didn’t have the words to talk to him,” Vargas said.
“I’m looking at him like, ‘Wow. I’ve got Albert Pujols on my side.’ I got super excited for it.”
Vargas was able to retrieve the ball after the game and said he is going to give it to his mom. “She will probably take care of it better than me,” he said.
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