Biggio's cycle, 17 years after dad's, 'magical'
BALTIMORE -- Bulletined on the wall of Cavan Biggio’s childhood bedroom is a ticket stub from when his father, Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, hit for the cycle against the Rockies in 2002. But even as he looked up to that cherished trinket each night before going to bed, he couldn’t have dreamed into reality the history that unfolded Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
With mother Patty looking on in the stands, the younger Biggio’s ninth-inning triple amid an 8-5 Blue Jays win over the Orioles solidified the Biggios as just the second father-son duo to have hit for the cycle, joining the likes of Daryle and Gary Ward.
“I see so much of his dad when he plays,” said Patty, who made the trip to Baltimore for some mother-son time.
“This whole year has been hard to put into words and obviously [for] your son to hit for the cycle in his first year in the big leagues -- and his mom drove down there to watch him play -- makes it even more special,” added Craig, now a special advisor to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, from his home in Houston.
The younger Biggio accomplished the feat in a way only the Biggio name could live up to: “Grit, real determination; real drive,” Patty said.
After his first at-bat ended in an inauspicious strikeout, it took Biggio an eight-pitch battle with Orioles reliever Mychal Givens to cap off his slice of history. According to Statcast, he lined a 96.3 mph fastball 388 feet the other way in a park not friendly to triples, racing around and sliding into third with, yes, some knowledge of what he had just done.
“I think Vladdy [Guerrero Jr.] said something, ‘Hey, next at-bat, hit a triple,’” Biggio recalled. “‘All right, I'll try my best.’ I didn’t think I was going to get up there.”
“The only place I think he can get the hit is at the State Farm sign,” Patty said. “And then a second later he hit it right at the State Farm sign. … I was shaking from head to toe.”
Almost on cue, the same exact thoughts went running through Craig’s head.
“To me, the only place you can hit it is to left-center, and then he hit it and then I was just hoping it got away from the guy,” said Craig, who was watching on his big screen with the family dogs as company. "It kicked away from [center fielder Mason Williams] and a magical moment happened.”
But not only did Biggio make himself part of father-son history, which itself is loaded with talent, his cycle was the sixth of 2019 and just the third in Blue Jays franchise history, joining Jeff Frye in 2001 and Kelly Gruber in 1990.
More important than the moment itself, at least to Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, is what it represents to Biggio’s season as a whole. His rookie campaign has been memorable, as he burst onto the scene with quick success. But as opponents began to figure him out, his numbers fell accordingly.
Now, things seem to be turning around heading into the final stretch of the year. Biggio was batting .221/.356/.399 on the year entering Tuesday, but those numbers in September sit at .333/.449/.667. He also stole a pair of bases, including third in the eighth inning, moments before scoring the tying run on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. sacrifice fly. He's now the owner of a perfect 13-for-13 on stolen base attempts.
“He came into the league … and then the league made an adjustment on him,” Montoyo said. “He needed to be aggressive again, and that’s what he’s doing right now.”
The cycle-clinching at-bat -- after a third-inning two-run blast, sixth-inning single and the the eighth-inning double -- was a microcosm of what’s made him successful, Montoyo said. Biggio fought two pitches he didn’t like, heeded the fact that Givens threw him three changeups to open the at-bat and realized that he wasn’t going to be walked to bring up Gurriel with the bases loaded.
“Even my last at bat,” Biggio said, “I just really didn't want to strike out.”
How does one feel rounding second, knowing they are 90 feet away from history?
“I knew it was going to fall -- I didn't think it was going to go out -- so I just put my head down and ran,” Biggio said. “I couldn't really feel much. In between first and second the umpire got in my way so i gave him a little stiff arm. It's football season. That was in the back of my mind.”
Patty wasn’t in the stands for her husband’s cycle in 2002, but Craig remembers just how emotional he was to call the family as soon as he could after. For as powerful emotions can be, there were perhaps none that could have predicted the history made Tuesday night in Baltimore.
“To be doing it again as a mother now is a little different,” Patty said. “It’s a little bit more emotional at times but still exciting. So happy for him.”
Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart contributed to this report from Houston.