Escobar first Met to hit for cycle in 10 years

June 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- As he rounded second base in the fourth inning Monday night and quickly thought better of it, fearful of making an out at third base, Eduardo Escobar could not have known the implications of that decision.

He could not have foreseen that five innings later, he would drill a no-doubt triple into the right-field corner to complete the first Mets cycle in 10 years.

Escobar singled in the first inning, doubled in the fourth, homered in the eighth and tripled in the ninth, becoming the first Mets player since Scott Hairston in 2012 to hit for a cycle and the first player from any club to do so at Petco Park.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Escobar, who finished 4-for-5 with six RBIs in the Mets’ 11-5 win over the Padres. “It’s hard, hitting the cycle at this level. Today is a special night for me.”

For Escobar, the night included an emotional fist pump at third base, a hug from manager Buck Showalter in the dugout and a bath of ice water during his postgame interview. Perhaps the most universally beloved Met, Escobar often takes his teammates out for meals on the road and is at the center of many team bonding activities within the clubhouse walls. So when Escobar motored into third base without a throw, the visiting dugout exploded into whoops and hollers.

“It was really fun to watch what he did today,” starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco said. “To run for the triple, the homer, all that kind of stuff, I’m going to appreciate that.”

For Escobar, the cycle highlighted what’s becoming a notable hot streak. As recently as May 21, he was hitting .203 as one of the few underperforming members of New York’s lineup. He has since broken out with three home runs, multiple four-hit nights and a .333 average over his last 14 games.

The cycle Monday included a two-run single, a two-run homer and a two-run triple, not to mention three hits from the right side of the plate and one from the left. Escobar became the 28th switch-hitter in AL/NL history to hit for the cycle, and the first since Jonathan Villar in 2019. (In the divisional era, more than half of those switch-hitters, including Escobar and Villar, completed their cycles from both sides of the plate.) Escobar also became the fifth Venezuelan-born player to accomplish the feat.

“For any guy, it’s fun to watch, but especially him,” Showalter said. “You know how much he means to his teammates. It’s almost like they hit it.”

While cycles may be rare, these types of special moments are becoming increasingly common for the Mets, who have achieved both a cycle and a no-hitter over the first two-plus months of the 2022 season. Those types of events each happen, on average, about twice per season in the Majors, but the Mets have only 11 of the former and two of the latter over 61 years as a franchise.

New York’s collection of players to hit for the cycle includes stars such as Keith Hernandez and José Reyes, role players such as Hairston and Alex Ochoa, and regular contributors like Escobar. A 12-year veteran who came to the Mets this offseason on a two-year, $20 million contract, Escobar has rapidly become a cornerstone player of a first-place team.

His decision not to try for a triple in the fourth inning set history in motion; when Escobar returned to the plate for his final at-bat, he joked that he was going to try for third base no matter where his ball landed. It just so happened that he hit it to an ideal spot, short-hopping a Tim Hill pitch off the right-field fence and out of the reach of Nomar Mazara. As the Padres’ right fielder chased down the carom, Escobar raced easily to third base with a stand-up triple.

More important in his eyes, he turned what was once a close game into something far less stressful.

“It’s a great moment,” Escobar said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy. But I’m more happy because we won. If you make a cycle but you lose, it’s not the same energy. But when you win, everything is looking good.”