The cycle’s a weird baseball thing to celebrate, as baseball things go. It’s good, obviously, because it means four hits and 10 total bases. But replacing the double with another home run would be even better. Replacing the home run with another triple would be rarer. Still, there’s something to be said for completism, and for a hitter coming up in his final plate appearance knowing that only a specific type of hit will do. And sometimes, like with Baltimore’s Jonathan Villar Monday night, he comes up in his final plate appearance not knowing a damn thing, and get it anyway.
Villar became the fifth Oriole in franchise history to hit for the cycle, following Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., Aubrey Huff, and Felix Pie. That it came in a 9-6 loss doesn’t diminish it so much; there are only so many opportunities to do something in an Orioles win these days.
After striking out in his first at-bat, Villar tripled, doubled, homered, and singled. (The double was the coolest of all, the speedy Villar taking second on a routine grounder through the right side, catching Aaron Judge napping.)
It was only when Villar reached first, after singling off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, that first-base coach Arnie Beyeler informed him he’d completed the cycle. Why hadn’t anyone else in the dugout let Villar know he was a single away? Well, that might’ve jinxed it.
“Everybody didn’t say anything because when you say something, maybe you miss it,” Villar said. “When the first base coach told me, I was like, ‘Really?’ It’s the same rule as when a pitcher throws a no-hitter. Nobody says anything.”
There was another bit of baseball history made Monday night. The Yankees, in homering five times, now have 32 dingers in eight games at Camden Yards this year. That’s a new MLB record for home runs in a visiting ballpark in a single season, breaking the old record of 29, set by the Milwaukee Braves at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field in 1957.