Holt completes first Red Sox cycle since '96
Leadoff hitter notches feat with triple in eighth inning
BOSTON -- As Brock Holt recapped his magical day to a swarm of media members, a playful Pablo Sandoval strolled past him and said, "Do it twice."
Holt laughed at the notion, but simply savored hitting for the cycle just this once -- the first time any player has done it for the Red Sox since John Valentin on June 6, 1996 -- during Boston's 9-4 win against the Braves on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
Yes, it was almost two decades between cycles for Boston, and this one, which helped the Red Sox snap a seven-game skid, couldn't have been timed better.
When Holt stepped to the plate in the eighth, he knew that a triple was necessary for the cycle.
"Obviously I knew I needed a triple. I didn't expect to hit one, but as soon as barrel hit ball I was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.' Because once it gets in the triangle, anything is possible," said Holt. "So I was just running on my horses and it worked out."
Alex Rios was the last player to complete a cycle with a triple, doing so Sept. 23, 2013. Holt is the first Red Sox player to complete a cycle with a triple since Fred Lynn on May 13, 1980, against the Twins.
For most players, the triple is the hardest hit to get. But in Holt's case, it was definitely the opposite-field homer over the Green Monster in the seventh.
Holt has eight triples and six homers in his career. And this was has his first over the Monster.
"I never expected to hit a ball over the Monster," said Holt. "That one was pretty cool, too. I hit it good, and I knew Jonny Gomes knows how to play the Monster pretty well. I thought it was going to come off the Monster so I put my head down, I was running as hard as I could. I got to second base, got to second and heard cheers. I was looking around, 'Where's the ball? Where's the ball?' I was still sprinting, so when I crossed home plate Mookie [Betts] was laughing pretty good at me."
Speaking of Betts, he came just a hit away from the cycle himself. After Holt had gotten his triple, Betts was up next, and he needed a homer to complete the feat. But he flew out.
"I didn't [realize it] until I took the first pitch and kind of looked over at the dugout and everyone was kind of looking at me," said Betts. "Then I looked up at the scoreboard and I saw it. At that point, I was pretty much just trying to hit a homer."
But this wound up being Holt's day. With Dustin Pedroia unable to play due to left knee soreness, Holt stepped into the leadoff spot and filled in for Pedroia at second base and gave his team the biggest spark imaginable. Holt became the first Red Sox leadoff man to cycle since Leon Culberson in 1943.
"I've hit leadoff my whole life," Holt said. "I saw I was hitting leadoff today, playing second base, I was just, 'Don't screw up too bad. The guy's spot you're in right now is pretty dang good.' I just went out there, tried to get good pitches to hit, put together good ABs and it worked out today."
Holt started Boston's two-run rally in the first with a double to left. In the fifth, he belted a single to right-center.
"Big day at the plate. He has been on a good run here of late in the two-hole and today, obviously, in the leadoff spot where he has been getting on base multiple times," said manager John Farrell. "He really squared up some balls today. It goes without saying any time a guy hits for the cycle he's had a stellar day, and that was today for Brock."
It was the 20th time a Red Sox hitter has gone for the cycle. Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr is the only Boston player to do it twice.