Gomez pulls off rare Twins cycle
Feat is the eighth in team history and first since Puckett in 1986
CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said numerous times this season to never take your eyes off Carlos Gomez when he's at the plate, because you never know what the 22-year-old center fielder might do.What he did on Wednesday night was accomplish a feat that a Twins hitter hadn't reached in nearly 22 years. Gomez became the first Twin to hit for the cycle since Kirby Puckett did it on Aug. 1, 1986, against Oakland, and the eighth in team history to do so. "It's amazing, something that Kirby Puckett did," Gomez said. "Gold Glover, All-Star. I can't explain it to you. That's unbelievable." It didn't take long for Gomez to get on track for the cycle. After sitting through an hour and 44 minute rain delay before the start of the game, the Twins' center fielder got the club on the board in a hurry in what turned out to be a 13-1 victory. Leading off the first inning, Gomez belted a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Mark Buehrle over the left-field fence for his second home run of the season. It was also the second time he's led off a game with a homer, as he did the same for his other home run on April 24 at Oakland. Anyone that didn't see the ball go over the fence might have been a little confused by watching Gomez round the bases. In more of a home-run sprint than a home-run trot, Gomez cruised around the basepaths with his usual blazing speed. "I think, 'The game is starting too late [because of a rain delay],' so I say, 'Let me run the bases quick, and games go fast,'" Gomez said. It certainly was a fast start, and a memorable one that would end up being a "reverse cycle" of sorts for Gomez. He followed up the home run with a triple, a double and finally a single to finish off the feat. Still, it didn't come completely easy. Gomez struck out swinging in his second at-bat in the third against Buehrle. But in the fifth inning, Gomez drove in another run when he tripled to deep left-center field. Amidst a five-run sixth inning for the Twins, Gomez came to the plate once again. This time, he delivered a hard-hit double to left-center field. Gomez ended up going to third on the play, but it was ruled a double with him advancing to third on a fielding error by Sox center fielder Nick Swisher. Despite having already recorded the two most difficult parts of the cycle, Gomez said he didn't even think about stopping at second base. "I'm a player," Gomez said. "I [wouldn't] stay at second for the cycle. It's an easy double, but I think, 'Go to third,' when I see him drop the ball." But with the hit ruled a double, Gomez came up to the plate to lead off the ninth needing just a single to complete the cycle. Facing Sox right-hander Ehren Wasserman, Gomez hit a ball up the middle on the first pitch that deflected off Wasserman's glove to shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez fielded the ball and threw a bit wildly, but Gomez looked like he would have beaten out the throw no matter what. Still, the Twins were unsure whether it would be ruled a single. "Everybody was waiting and looking at the scoreboard to see if it's a base hit," said Twins starter Livan Hernandez, who greeted Gomez in the dugout later that inning with a hug. "And when we see a base hit, everybody congratulated him. It's nice, hitting for the cycle. It's something amazing, because it's not easy to do." Gomez clearly knew the impact of his feat when he reached first base. A smile crept over his face, and when he stepped on first with the word "hit" sprawled on the scoreboard, Gomez gave a little fist pump.
|"He's special. He's the total package, and he's still just learning the game, learning how to hit. He can bunt, he can steal, he can throw and he can play center field."|
|-- Acting manager Scott Ullger|
"I think about my family," Gomez said of the pump. "That's what I say: 'Thank you for giving me the ability,' and say, 'This is for my family.'"This was Gomez's first time hitting for the cycle in the Majors, but the 22-year-old said he had accomplished the feat once before. Gomez said he did it in extended Spring Training with the Mets one year, going 6-for-6 with two home runs, two triples, a double and a single. Gomez also recorded six at-bats during this cycle. Following his single in the top of the ninth, the center fielder came to the plate once more in the inning and struck out swinging for the second time in the ballgame. Gomez finished the night 4-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored, and he was a large part of sparking the Twins' offense one night after the club was almost no-hit by White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. But while it was a tremendous accomplishment for Gomez, there didn't seem to be much surprise by the Twins -- of any player on their roster to record such a feat, it would be their charismatic center fielder. "He's special," acting manager Scott Ullger said. "He's the total package, and he's still just learning the game, learning how to hit. He can bunt, he can steal, he can throw and he can play center field." And the Twins aren't the only ones now who know it. "This kid has a chance to make people forget a little bit pretty soon about Torii Hunter," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid has all the tools. I like the way he plays. He's a little cocky. He has what I like. He has speed. That kid has a chance to be a [great] player. I don't want to see him hit for the cycle here, but you have to wear it."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.