Tulo hits for fifth cycle in Rockies history
Shortstop goes 5-for-5 with seven RBIs, just misses slam
DENVER -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had permission to let big thoughts cycle through his mind during Monday night's 11-5 victory over the Cubs at Coors Field.
Even before Tulowitzki's daring seventh-inning triple, which gave him the fifth cycle in Rockies history and their first in nine years, he and right fielder Brad Hawpe discussed the scenario. Well, it was more like Hawpe ordered him to go for a triple if he had any chance at all.
"I probably wouldn't have done it had Hawpe not said something," Tulowitzki said. "I'd have felt selfish, going for a cycle.
"He was like, 'You know how many chances in your career that you're going to get to try to get a cycle?' He said, 'One, and it's this one.' I was like, 'What if I'm on second and the ball's coming?' He was like, 'You've still got to go.'"
With Tulowitzki having knocked his team-leading 21st home run, for two runs, off Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny in the first inning, followed by a two-run single in the second and an RBI double in the fourth, the talk between Tulowitzki and Hawpe came to life in the seventh.
Facing Esmailin Caridad, who made his Major League debut when Gorzelanny left with a bruised right foot in the second inning, Tulowitzki smashed a pitch into the left-field corner, where Alfonso Soriano bobbled the carom off the wall. Soriano had the ball by the time Tulowitzki was about three strides from second. But he was taking Hawpe's advice.
"What happens all the time is people think they're not going, then they rush it and make a bad throw," Hawpe said. "I said they'll probably throw it away."
Soriano's throw to shortstop Ryan Theriot was soft, and the relay eluded third baseman Jake Fox. A crowd of 34,485 was in a frenzy. And Tulowitzki and Hawpe, who was on deck and decided to delay stepping into the batter's box, shared a private smile.
The whole team got a kick out of the awkward slide, which made it look as if he was swimming to third.
"I thought I was out," Tulowitzki said. "I felt like I slid at shortstop. I felt like I crawled there."
Tulowitzki joined a most-private club. He and former Red Sox shortstop John Valentin are the only players in Major League history with an unassisted triple play and a cycle during their careers.
The club of players to cycle for the Rockies, or in games involving the team, is not as exclusive, but it's not large, either.
All eight cycles during Rockies games since the club entered the Majors in 1993 have occurred at Coors Field.
Here are the others for the Rockies:
Dante Bichette went hitless in his first two at-bats against the Ranges on June 10, 1998, but doubled, homered, tripled and, in the 10th inning, singled in the run that gave the Rockies a 9-8 victory.
Neifi Perez doubled, tripled, bunted for a single, and homered on an 0-1 pitch in the seventh inning as the Rockies beat the Cardinals, 5-2, on July 25, 1998.
On June 19, 1999, Todd Helton needed four plate appearances -- a double, a single, a homer and a triple off the right-field wall in the seventh inning of an 11-10 victory over the Marlins.
Mike Lansing achieved what is believed to be the fastest cycle in history -- within the first four innings -- on June 19, 2000, with a triple, a homer, a double and a single in a 19-2 victory over the D-backs.
Here are cycles by opposing players:
John Mabry's cycle on May 18, 1996, was the first in natural order -- single, double, triple, home run -- for a Cardinals player since Ken Boyer in 1964.
Craig Biggio cycled on April 8, 2002, in the Astros' 8-4 victory in the Rockies' home opener.
The Giants' Fred Lewis became the 24th player for that club to hit for the cycle in a 15-2 victory over the Rockies on May 13, 2007.
"You could tell from the first swing of the night that he was locked in and he was going to have a good night," said Helton, whose 3-for-4 performance that extended his hit streak to 15 games would have been the story on another night. "It's not easy to do. I'm very proud of him and very happy to have a front-row seat to watch him tonight. It was very impressive."
How good was Tulowitzki's night?
He lost a possible grand slam because he hit a second-inning pitch so high and far to left field that not even the television cameras could capture it. Yet, he finished with career highs with seven RBIs and five hits.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella mentioned the two defensive miscues on the triple, but in the same breath tipped his hat to Tulowitzki.
"What did he have, five hits?" said Piniella, whose team dropped 3-of-4 to the Rockies. "Seven RBIs? And he just missed that one around the flagpole. I've never seen a guy drive in nine runs in a game. Thank God I didn't."
Even if he had received credit for the slam -- an at-bat he finished with a two-run single -- he'd have still achieved the cycle with his two-run single in the eighth.
"What you saw offensively from our shortstop, that's a pretty good career for some guys," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Cycles are rare, but Tulowitzki's production is a major reason the Rockies are a startling 44-22 since Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle on May 29. Tulowitzki has led the way by hitting 16 home runs since June 8. He also has hits in 24 of his past 30 games, and leads the team with 23 games since the All-Star break.
"He's a huge part of the success we've had," Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes said. "I was excited for him to have a night like that. That was something you don't see every day."
Tulowitzki said he worried about how it would look to acknowledge the crowd. But with the fans chanting his name after the bottom of the seventh ended, he doffed his cap and received a louder ovation.
"When you're sitting there and you're going out for defense, you've got to show respect," Tulowitzki said. "And when the other team is coming up to you, congratulating you, you know you've done something special."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.