TOWER GROVE • For almost a month, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina's solo home run to center field at Great American Ball Park on April 9 against the Cincinnati Reds stood not only as the punctuation on a three-homer inning but the longest drive of the season for the Cardinals.
According to Hit Tracker, which is now part of the ESPN empire, Molina's homer traveled 429 feet.
Not one of the next 23 homers hit by a Cardinal traveled farther.
One night in the desert changed that.
The Cardinals bombarded the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday with five home runs in their 9-6 victory. The home runs came in bunches and, like Vector, they had both direction and maaagnitude. Four of the home runs hit Monday night eclipsed Molina's 429-foot blast, according to ESPN Home Run Tracker. An email from Evan Kaplan at ESPN added that not only did they out-distance the previous top shot of the season, two of the home runs were career bests for two Cardinals.
Here are the ESPN-calculated distances on the home runs hit at Chase Field on Monday night by the Cardinals:
Rafael Furcal -- 441 feet
Allen Craig -- 439 feet
David Freese -- 435 feet
Carlos Beltran -- 430 feet
Matt Holliday -- 427 feet
According to the tracker, the distance and direction of the homers by Beltran and Furcal meant that each would have been a homer at all 30 parks. Freese's would have left 26 parks, and Craig's would have soared out of 28 parks.
Craig and Freese hit their homers in back-to-back at-bats against Arizona reliever Bryan Shaw. According to the tracker, Craig's bolt left his bat at 104.8 mph and Freese's left his at 106.3 mph. (The top exit speed for a homer so far this season is Travis Hafner's homer against Kansas City's Luis Mendoza on April 15. That left his bat at 117.2 mph.) The top height of Craig's homer was 111 feet, and the apex of Freese's homer was 84 feet. (Holliday's homer had an apex of 126 feet, which is 60 feet more than a home run he hit earlier this month at Busch.) That gives you a sense of the detail to which Hit Tracker has always calculated homers and, yes, it's a lot of numbers to describe a base hit that really results in the only number that matters: a run.
But here's a take away from those numbers: Craig and Freese, two cornerstones of this Cardinals' offense and the coming years of the Cardinals' offense, have combined to hit 39 homers in the regular season.
On back-to-back swings on Monday night, they each hit their longest.
Freese's 435 shot at Chase Field was 3 feet beyond the previous longest drive of his career. That also came at Chase Field -- a 432-foot homer hit last April at the D-Backs' home. (Aside: Freese's famous 11th-inning homer against Texas in Game 6 of the World Series is the next greatest distance of his career, at 428 feet.) Craig's 439-foot homer to center field at Chase on Monday was 9 feet beyond his previous best. That 430-foot homer came against Chris Capuano at the end of April 2011 at Busch Stadium.
The site linked to above has "true distances" calculated for all homers hit since 2006, and a recreational spin through that database reveals that the Cardinals have had their share of mammoth shots in the past few seasons. Lance Berkman hit a 454-foot homer last season at Minute Maid Park. Albert Pujols once connected for a 465-foot homer off lefty Randy Johnson back in 2009. And in 2006, several seasons before he became a Cardinal, Matt Holliday connected for a home run at Coors Field off San Francisco Giants righty Matt Cain that traveled a "true distance" of 498 feet.
The longest drive hit by a Cardinal since 2006?
Why, naturally, that belongs to Colby Rasmus. On June 27, 2010, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Rasmus blasted a pitch from Royals pitcher Blake Wood. The escape velocity of the homer was 118.2 mph and the ball never got higher than 90 feet off the ground.
According to Hit Tracker, it traveled 480 feet.