After the swing of the bat and after his Grand Slam landed in the St. Paul Saints Sunday afternoon, Saints designated hitter Jair Camargo pointed to the home dugout in a “told you so” moment.
Before the game, Camargo relayed to his teammates that he has hit at least one home run in each of the past four weeks. In the final game of Week 5, he realized he would be due.
Homer no. 5 cut the Omaha Storm Chasers’ lead to 6-5 in the seventh inning, and when Camargo returned to the dugout, his teammates had something for him – the giant, foam hat that this week became the way. Saints celebrate the long ball.
“It was fun,” Camargo said of the game-changing moment. “Usually you don’t look for it, you just look for a pitch and try to get a good swing to help the team. Especially me; I was struggling so I didn’t want to think too much or try to do too much.
“It’s hard for a guy like me who has power because sometimes I try to swing harder. I was just trying to stay calm and make sure I hit a good pitch.”
The Saints scored five more runs in the seventh, including three on a home run by Hernan Perez, and defeated the Storm Chasers, 10-6.
The day before, in the lineup at his primary catcher position, Camargo had three hits to raise his batting average from .170 to .192. Camargo also threw two attempted steals.
Thus, manager Toby Gardenhire’s decision to insert Camargo into Sunday’s lineup at DH.
“He had a good game yesterday and we were hoping he could continue,” Gardenhire said. “Cam kind of did, so that was good.”
Camargo appreciated the confidence his manager showed in him.
“It’s tough when you’re struggling early in the season,” he said. “It’s cold, I wasn’t in the best condition and my swing wasn’t right. But, thank God, there are people who support me – the coaches, in particular, have helped me.”
The Twins acquired Camargo, 23, from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 in the trade that brought Kenta Maeda to Minnesota. It appears that his ability to reach the major leagues will determine how well he hits.
“He’s a good defensive catcher,” Gardenhire said. “He can throw, he can block, he does a lot of things well. He needs to work on the offensive end. He hits a lot, so if he can cut down on the shots and keep the power he has, then I think he’s a pretty good option.”
Camargo said he felt like things were coming back to the plate in the last two weeks. In fact, he entered the game hitting .293 in May after hitting .109 in April.
“I took the good things from my at-bat,” Camargo said. “It’s like, ‘OK, we took some good swings, now let’s take it a step further.’ It’s more about trusting myself, going to the box with a plan and sticking to it.”
Earlier this season, the 5-foot-11, 237-pound Camargo hit a home run to left-center field that cleared the walkway beyond the wall and landed atop the concession stand. It was measured at 495 feet, which may have reduced the explosion.
“He’s got a serious amount of power,” Gardenhire said. “He can hit the ball really, really long. When he hit that homer today – that’s a line drive. Not many guys can hit a road like that as fast as he came out.
Saints outfielder Andrew Stevenson extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Camargo is on a seven game hitting streak.