Since 1900, no Cardinals pitcher has hit two home runs in a game. But their present pitching coach, Derek Lilliquist, did it when he was a pitcher for the Braves.
That’s just one of many facts to be found in the re-released updated version of “Great Hitting Pitchers”, originally published in 1979 as one of the first publications produced by the Society for American Baseball Research. The 2012 version, edited by L. Robert Davids, updated by Mike Cook, and aided by David Vincent, has an Ebook price of $5.99 and a paperback cover price of $9.95.
Starting against the Mets on May 1, 1990, at Atlanta, Lilliquist earned the win by limiting New York to three hits over seven innings and hitting a pair of solo homers off Ron Darling in the Braves’ 5-2 victory. Boxscore
“This guy is going to be the next Babe,” Braves manager Russ Nixon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He hit those balls hard.”
Lilliquist’s home runs, leading off the third and fifth innings, were two of four solo shots yielded by Darling in five innings. The others were hit by center fielder Oddibe McDowell and catcher Ernie Whitt.
“Everyone had told us how good a hitter he was and I went out tonight and proved it,” Darling said to the Associated Press. “We should have studied that chart on Lilliquist a little better.”
Lilliquist, who pitched and batted left-handed, had hit 19 home runs in his final college season as a junior at the University of Georgia in 1987, giving him 35, then a school record, in his college career.
“I know what I’ve got to do to hit,” Lilliquist told the Associated Press. “I look for pitches that I can hit hard. When I’m ahead in the count, I’m not going to go after a ball low and away. I’m going to look for something I can drive and move the runners if I have to get them over.”
Lilliquist became the first Braves pitcher to hit two home runs in a game since Tony Cloninger slugged two grand slams against the Giants at San Francisco on July 3, 1966. (Cloninger’s second grand slam was hit off ex-Cardinal Ray Sadecki) Boxscore
Lilliquist also was the first big-league pitcher to hit two home runs in a game since the Giants’ Jim Gott did it against the Cardinals on May 12, 1985, at San Francisco. Gott hit two solo shots against Bob Forsch in the Giants’ 5-4 10-inning victory. Boxscore
The home runs gave Lilliquist a .556 batting average. In an article for Newsday about Lilliquist’s power hitting, Marty Noble wrote:
He is a marked man now. They’ll let him bunt, they’ll let him swing. But (they) aren’t going to let Lilliquist go deep … Lilliquist won’t see another straight pitch this decade.
Gott, a Dodgers reliever when Lilliquist hit his homers in 1990, told Noble: “They’re going to pitch him like a slugger now. He’ll see the difference.”
They were correct. Traded by the Braves to the Padres in July 1990, Lilliquist hit .150 (3-for-20) for San Diego that season. He never hit another big-league home run. His career batting mark in eight major-league seasons: .213 (23-for-108).
Previously: Cards, once a nemesis, now tout Lilliquist