Brock Holt hits for the cycle against Braves
By Zach Cox
Even before he stepped to the plate the eighth inning, Tuesday already had been a memorable day at the dish for Brock Holt.
The Boston Red Sox utility man, on this occasion playing second base and leading off in place of the injured Dustin Pedroia, had collected hits in three of his four at-bats in an afternoon meeting with the visiting Atlanta Braves, including a seventh-inning home run that landed in the seats atop the Green Monster.
It was the first time Holt had ever cleared Fenway Park’s daunting left field wall, and even he could hardly believe it.
“(I) hit it good, and I knew Jonny Gomes knows how to play the Monster pretty well, so I knew it was going to come off pretty good off the Monster,” Holt said, referring to the former Red Sox left fielder who now patrols the same position for the Braves. “So, I put my head down, and I was running as hard as I could trying to get to second base. Got to second, and I heard cheers. I was kind of looking around — ‘Where’s the ball? Where’s the ball?’ — and still sprinting. So, whenever I crossed home plate, Mookie (Betts) was laughing pretty good at me.”
The cheers were loud after Holt’s solo shot. One inning later, they were deafening.
In his final at-bat of Boston’s 9-4 victory, Holt, who doubled and singled in his first two plate appearances, blasted a line drive over the head of center fielder Cameron Maybin and into the triangle. By the time Maybin corralled the ball and returned it to the infield, Holt was standing on third, making him the first Red Sox batter since John Valentin in 1996 to hit for the cycle.
“Obviously, I knew that I needed a triple,” said Holt, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the win. “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’s possible. So, I was just running on my horses, and it worked out.”
It wasn’t until he reached the bag, however, that the magnitude of the moment sank in.
“I was like, ‘This is pretty cool,’ ” Holt said. “(Third base coach Brian Butterfield) kind of came up to me and said, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’ I tried to soak it all in — looked in my dugout, and my teammates were all pretty pumped at the top step.”
Holt was aware of the milestone as he approached it, but his teammates, he said, were not. They were more concerned with Betts, who had a phenomenal offensive day in his own right. The center fielder, hitting one spot behind Holt, collected three hits in his five plate appearances: a double, a triple and a single.
“I think they were staring at Mookie whenever he came up,” Holt said, “because he needed a home run.”
Betts ultimately could not find that four-bagger, flying out to Maybin in his final opportunity.
Although they narrowly missed out on becoming the first pair of major league teammates to hit for the cycle in the same game, Boston’s two table-setters carried a Red Sox offense that was as potent Tuesday as it’s been in 2015. The Sox pounded out 18 hits in the win — a total matched this season only in the team’s 19-inning epic at Yankee Stadium — despite lacking the services of Pedroia and left fielder Hanley Ramirez, who both were nursing injuries.
That offensive resurgence came at a perfect time, too, as the victory over Atlanta snapped a season-long seven-game losing streak.
“I think these last couple of days, we hit the ball well,” Betts said. “I think we’ll just continue to keep the train rolling.”
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