Kinsler hits for cycle, goes 6-for-6
Speedster calls Robinson Day performance best of career
ARLINGTON -- Jackie Robinson died over a quarter-century ago, but on the day he was being honored, his baseball spirit was alive and well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.Those who never had the privilege of watching Robinson play should have witnessed the performance that second baseman Ian Kinsler turned in on Wednesday night when he went 6-for-6 and became the fourth Rangers player in club history and fifth in franchise history to hit for the cycle. Kinsler's performance in the Rangers 19-6 victory over the Orioles was very much in the style of the Brooklyn Dodgers' Hall of Fame second baseman who broke baseball's color barrier 62 years ago. "It is more special to do it on Jackie Robinson Day," Kinsler said. "He's the guy who could do everything in the game, hit triples, hit home runs, steal bases, score runs, do everything. It is weird that it's Jackie Robinson Day and I'm playing second base, but it's great it happened that way." Kinsler didn't break any barriers but he did have a night to remember, becoming the first Major League player in 119 years to finish with six hits in a nine-inning game in which he hit for the cycle, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also threw himself all over the Rangers record books while providing some big hits at a time early in the game when his team appeared in serious trouble. "He took the game over in every aspect," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Kinsler got us started from the first pitch and didn't let up." When it was over, Kinsler's six-hit night included two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run, becoming the first Rangers player in club history to have six hits in a nine-inning game. Alfonso Soriano had six in a 10-inning game on May 8, 2004. The last player to collect six hits in a game and hit for the cycle was William Farmer Weaver for the Louisville Colonels on Aug. 12, 1890. "It was a career-type of ballgame," third baseman Michael Young said. "To hit for the cycle and have a couple of extra hits thrown in, that's an incredible game." Kinsler also tied Rangers records with four extra base-hits (done eight times) and five runs scored in a game. That's been done six times, the last being on Aug. 22, 2007, by Marlon Byrd and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the 30-3 victory over the Orioles. Kinsler is the first Rangers right-handed hitter to hit for the cycle. Oddibe McDowell, a left-handed hitter, was the first to do it on July 23, 1985, against the Indians at Arlington Stadium. The other two were switch-hitters. Mark Teixeira hit for the cycle on Aug. 17, 2004, against the Indians and Gary Matthews Jr. did it on Sept. 13, '06, against the Tigers. "Kinsler's a great player," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We've had trouble with him dating back to last year. He's hit us real well. He hits everybody real well. Today was his night. Tip your cap to him. A tremendous achievement for a very good player."
Kinsler's journey toward a Robinson-like performance began in the bottom of the first. The Orioles took a 2-0 lead against Rangers starter Kris Benson and Kinsler responded immediately with a leadoff double against Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson."They got up two runs in the first and I was just trying to get us back in the game," Kinsler said. "I was able to hit a double and the rest of the game I was just trying to play the game. I'm not thinking about the cycle, I'm thinking about doing what you need to do to win the game." The Rangers trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the third when Kinsler came up with one out and nobody on base. This time he hit one into the seats in deep left-center field for a home run and the Rangers added two more that inning to take a 4-3 lead. That was still the score when Kinsler followed a leadoff walk to Elvis Andrus with a single to left field in the bottom of the fourth. Then he did what Robinson did so well so many years ago: He became a force on the basepaths. Young hit a ground ball to the right side. Brian Roberts grabbed it going to his right, then spun and went to second for the force. But Kinsler's speed forced him to hurry the throw and the ball got away from shortstop Cesar Izturis. Andrus scored and Kinsler was safe at second. Kinsler then stole third base at the front of a double steal. Ultimately he scored on a single by Byrd as the Rangers broke the game open with an eight-run rally. Kinsler drove in the final run with his second single of the inning. That left only the triple which he needed for the cycle and his chance came in the sixth after reliever Brian Bass walked Andrus with one out. The Rangers led 13-4 and the big mystery was a triple from Kinsler. Sure enough ... Kinsler worked the count full and then ripped a drive high and deep toward the 407-foot sign in right-center. "When the ball got in the air, everybody in the dugout was on the top step, hoping it would fall in," Byrd said. It did. It fell beyond the reach of center fielder Adam Jones and bounced up against the top of the wall. Kinsler knew where he was headed. "I knew I had the opportunity to hit for the cycle," Kinsler said. "I was hoping I got it over his head and then I was hoping it would rattle around. Whether he got it cleanly off the wall or not, I was going to go for it." Kinsler made it to third base easily. He would add a double in the eighth inning to finish off what he called the greatest night of his career. "Opening Day , my first big league game was pretty special," Kinsler said. "But as far as performance on the field, this has to top it." It has to be special when it's a performance worthy of Jackie Robinson.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.