Turner hits for second career cycle in Nats’ romp (updated)

The first time he did it - on a frigid, 43-degree Denver night in April 2017 - Trea Turner’s accomplishment could perhaps be chalked up in part to the conditions. Yes, he hit for the cycle, but he did it at Coors Field, where nine different major leaguers have done it in the ballpark’s 25-year history.

“For me, it’s hard to get that triple,” he said. “And at Coors Field, it’s a little bit easier.”

This time, however, Turner did it on a comfortable, 77-degree July evening at Nationals Park. Yes, he did it to the Rockies pitching staff again. But he nonetheless duplicated his feat from two years ago.

Turner-Trots-Blue-sidebar.jpgTurner homered in the bottom of the first. He singled in the bottom of the second. He tripled in the bottom of the fifth. And then, after missing an opportunity to finish it off when he grounded into a double play in the bottom of the sixth, he completed the deal with a double in the bottom of the seventh to help cap off an 11-1 thumping of Colorado.

Thus did Turner become only the 26th player in major league history to hit for the cycle multiple times in his career, the first member of the Nationals to pull that off.

“I think anytime you can put your name next to somebody else who has done something pretty substantial in this sport, I think it’s a compliment,” he said. “It’s a hard game, and to get four hits in one game is hard to do. To have four different ones is, I think, a little bit of luck. But also at the same time, a little humbling to be with those guys.”

Turner no longer stands alongside Brad Wilkerson (April 6, 2005) and Cristian Guzmán (Aug. 28, 2008) in club annals. He has surpassed those blasts from the past and stands alone in this quirky-but-beloved baseball achievement.

(Wilkerson, it should be noted, did also hit for the cycle in 2003 while the franchise still played in Montreal.)

“It’s a feat that doesn’t happen often,” manager Davey Martinez said. “To be able to do it twice, that to me is a testament to how good a player Trea really is.”

The crowd of 22,612 had been on cycle watch since Turner’s fifth-inning triple, which left the speedy leadoff man only a double shy. Everyone groaned when he grounded into the inning-ending double play in the sixth, and perhaps many had forgotten when he came up to bat in the seventh because the Nationals had just scored five insurance runs to extend their lead, with Gerardo Parra prompting everyone in attendance to clap along to “Baby Shark” with a two-run, pinch-hit single.

But the moment Turner laced a drive to the right-center gap off Jairo Díaz, the crowd realized what was suddenly at stake. And as he coasted into second base, driving in Parra, the roar grew as one simple word flashed on the scoreboard: “Cycle.”

“It’s special,” first baseman Matt Adams said. “We’re super excited for him. A guy like that, he works his butt off day-in and day-out. And to have a game like this, we’re super happy for him.”

This was hardly uncharted territory for Turner. He not only had completed the cycle on April 25, 2017 - a mere 311 games ago - he had been either a single or a double shy of the cycle three other times in his career, including last month against the White Sox.

So the 26-year-old had a particular thought run through his mind when he reached second base in the bottom of the seventh tonight.

“I didn’t screw it up this time,” he said. “I had a chance earlier in the year to do it, and needed a single and didn’t do it. For me, it’s almost more funny than anything that I got lucky enough to get all the right hits. I think it’s kind of a lucky stat, just because you’ve got to put the ball in the right place at the right time. And I ended up doing that.”

The night began in fine fashion for Turner, who led things off with a laser to left-center, the 10th home run surrendered by Rockies rookie right-hander Peter Lambert in 35 2/3 major league innings. A double by Adam Eaton and a two-out RBI single by Adams made it 2-0 and surely gave the Nationals reason to believe they were headed toward a big night at the plate.

Not so fast, folks. Lambert may not have dazzled, but he made pitches when he needed to make them and put up four consecutive zeroes after that shaky bottom of the first.

The Nationals had plenty of chances to tack on, particularly from the heart of their lineup. But Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto went a combined 0-for-6 with two strikeouts and zero balls that left the infield against Lambert.

Not until the bottom of the sixth did the Nats finally plate another run, and it came from an unlikely source. Yan Gomes, who entered a measly 1-for-23 in July, lined an RBI single to left for his second hit in as many at-bats, this one scoring Brian Dozier and extending the lead to 3-0.

“His swing was a lot shorter, which was really nice,” Martinez said of Gomes. “Had a big hit for us there to drive in that third run. It was huge. Hopefully, he stays that way for a while and we get him going.”

Gomes’ tack-on RBI helped give the bullpen some cushion to try to preserve Stephen Strasburg’s win. Strasburg had to pitch his way out of trouble all night himself but stranded runners in scoring position in the first, second, third and fourth innings.

Strasburg departed after the sixth, having not surrendered a run but having racked up 107 pitches.

No matter, because Wander Suero tossed a scoreless seventh to preserve what was still a 3-0 lead at the time. And then newly added reliever Michael Blazek turned in two innings with the game comfortably in hand to finish off a night that ultimately belonged to Trea Turner.

A night that he’ll probably remember more fondly than that frigid 2017 at Coors Field.

“It was terrible in Colorado,” he said with a laugh. “I was pretty miserable, and I was coming back from, I think, a hamstring pull. I remember when I hit the triple, (former first base coach) Davey Lopes was yelling at me to go easy. And I was like: ‘Screw it, this is probably my one and only shot.’ So I went for it.

“And today, I looked down at my uniform, and usually I’m getting pickoffs and stealing bases and I have a dirty uniform. And I was fairly clean today. So those were the two things that stuck out in my mind. I somehow didn’t touch the floor today.”

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