hit the first cycle for the Astros
since Luke Scott did it in 2006. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Brandon Barnes, the Astros' rookie centerfielder, homered off Mariners starter Joe Saunders in his first at-bat Friday night. In his next, he hit an RBI triple off Saunders. His third time up, he singled off Saunders. He then came to the plate against reliever Danny Farquhar in the bottom of the eighth needing a double for the Astros' first cycle since Luke Scott turned the trick back in 2006.
Barnes took the first two pitches from Farquhar to put the count at 1-1, then slashed a 95 MPH fastball down the right-field line, just barely fair. Barnes, a fast player but also one prone to running into outs on the bases (he leads the American League with six times caught stealing, has been picked off three additional times, and has run into three other outs) lit out of the box like a man on fire. Rightfielder Michael Saunders' throw beat Barnes to second base by more than a full body length, but it was to the infield side of the bag, and Barnes managed to slide in safely ahead of shortstop Brad Miller's tag.
[mlbvideo id="28953439" width="600" height="360" /]
With that, Barnes became the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Scott, the first rookie to hit for the cycle since the Giants' Fred Lewis in 2007, and just the second man to hit for the cycle this year, joining Mike Trout, who also did so against the Mariners back on May 21. Barnes added an infield single in the ninth for the first five-hit game by an Astro since Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman both did it in May 2008. That performance marked the first game of Barnes' major-league career with more than three hits, and his triple in the fourth inning was also his first in the majors.
The 27-year-old Barnes was drafted out of a Los Angeles-area community college by the Astros in the sixth round of the 2005 draft and moved slowly up the ladder, making his major-league debut on Aug. 7 of last year. Barnes hit .323/.405/.477 in a part-time role in April and May of this year (76 plate appearances), serving as something of a right-handed platoon partner to the since-released Rick Ankiel. That performance earned him the full-time job in center field, but in the space between becoming a fixture in the Astros' lineup on May 28 and the end of the first half, he hit just .192/.237/.267 in 158 plate appearances and had just three hits in 11 July starts prior to Friday night.
Most likely, Friday night's cycle will be Barnes' lasting impact on the game, and though it was notable for being both a cycle and a five-hit game, six players have hit for more total bases in a game this year, one of them twice (see table), and six more have hit for 11 total bases in a game this year.
Note: Miguel Cabrera also had 11 total bases on June 28
The Astros, who complemented Barnes' cycle with a team cycle (Jason Castro
doubled, Jose Altuve
tripled, and Brett Wallace
homered among seven other singles), still managed to lose despite their impressive collection of safeties, falling to the Mariners 10-7.