The Red Sox saw most of their minor league games rained out last night, leaving us with just one game. With that in mind, I'm going to take the opportunity to talk about hitting for the cycle. It's relevant, trust me.
On July 2nd, 2008, in the middle of his MVP season, Dustin Pedroia came up to bat in the eighth inning. His first at bat of the game had resulted in his ninth home run of the season, his second saw him triple to center, and his third was a double. Pedroia had gone down the check list one-by-one, and just needed a single to complete the cycle. So, when he found his fourth hit of the night, it seemed like he'd checked off that final box.
The only problem: he hit that ball a bit too well, and the Red Sox were trailing the Rays 7-5. So rather than hold up at first, completing the cycle, Pedroia made his way to second, and in the end was declared a single short.
The cycle is one of those weird achievements things in baseball which seems to be relevant mostly because it has a tradition of being relevant, rather than because of what it actually means happened on the field. There's no denying that a player who hits for the cycle has had an amazing game, and the combination of the ultimate power hit in the homer and the ultimate speed hit in the triple* does make it a little more special. But when it comes down to it, the minimum cycle is a strictly less impressive performance than Pedroia's that night, which for whatever reason doesn't earn its own little stamp of honor.
So, with that being said...
Portland W 5-4 (In 10)
Xander Bogaerts: 0-5, K
Michael Almanzar: 0-5, K
Travis Shaw: 0-4, 3 K
Christian Vazquez: 4-4, 2 2B, 3B, HR, BB, SB
Kolbrin Vitek: 0-5, 2 K
Matt Barnes: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Christian Vazquez, obviously, was the inspiration for that little rant. If you're surprised by his outburst, well, actually that's legitimate. He's a catcher, and catcher's don't exactly hit triples very often. In fact, that's the fourth of his career, with his three others all coming, weirdly enough, in 2011.
But outside of the triple, Vazquez' production isn't exactly uncharacteristic of what you might consider a breakout season. But only if you didn't consider 2011 that breakout season. A transcendent May has seen Vazquez take his nice OBP of April, and slap a ton of hits and enough extra bases on top to leave him approaching a .900 OPS. Add in that ridiculous cannon arm we saw in Spring Training, and Vazquez' future is starting to look almost surprisingly bright.
*Actually, it occurs to me that an inside-the-park homer would be a strictly more impressive feat than a triple, but could not replace the triple in completing the cycle.
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