Hitting for the cycle is a position player’s equivalent to pitching a no-hitter. For those unfamiliar with the term “hitting for the cycle”, it refers to a batter hitting a combination of a single, a double, a triple, and a home run within the same game. A natural cycle refers to getting those four hits in order.
In the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise four players have accomplished hitting for the cycle. The first was Luis Gonzalez (July 5, 2000) against the Houston Astros in the Astrodome. Gonzalez began his cycle in the first inning hitting a double off Astros starter Shane Reynolds.
In the third inning Gonzalez hit a single to right field and followed that with a groundout in the fourth inning. After a strikeout in the sixth, Gonzalez hit a triple in the eighth inning to left center field.
Gonzalez accomplished his cycle in dramatic fashion by hitting a home run against Doug Henry icing the win for the Diamondbacks and adding another entry to the Diamondbacks history books under his name.
The second and most unlikely Diamondback to hit for the cycle was Greg Colbrunn (September 18, 2002) who accomplished the feat against the San Diego Padres. At Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Colbrunn was playing first base for the Diamondbacks and batting second.
Colbrunn’s cycle started in the first inning with a single to centerfield and he would score on a throwing error during Gonzalez’ at-bat. After striking out in the third inning, Colbrunn would hit a 3-run home run to left center field.
In the sixth inning Colbrunn hit a double to left center field leaving him within a triple of hitting for the cycle. He would get his chance in the top of the seventh inning but instead hit his second home run of the game.
Coming up to bat in the ninth inning Colbrunn was again looking for that elusive triple. Not known for his speed Colbrunn hit the ball hard down the right field line into the corner. It then became a foot race that Colbrunn sliding in just under the tag for the second cycle in Diamondbacks history.
The first Diamondback to hit for the cycle at Chase Field was shortstop Stephen Drew (September 1, 2008). In the first time in Major League Baseball history two players hit for the cycle on the same day. The first that day was Seattle Mariner third baseman Adrian Beltre and Drew followed suit in a win against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Drew would lead off the game hitting a single to deep left field. He would follow that up with a line drive to deep center field legging out a triple against Joel Pineiro.
In the fifth inning Drew hit a home run to deep right field leaving him a double short of the cycle. That double would come in the seventh inning when he hit a ground rule double to left field ensuring himself a spot in Diamondbacks history. Drew would finish the game with another double this time to right field just to make sure.
The latest Diamondback to accomplish this feat was Kelly Johnson (July 23, 2010) in a home game against the San Francisco Giants. Johnson hitting in the number two spot for manager Kirk Gibson began the game with a home run to right field tying the game.
When Johnson came to bat in the third inning pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hit him in the back with the first pitch and was subsequently picked off at second base. His third time at the plate Johnson hit a ground-rule double down the right field bouncing into the Giants bullpen.
Johnson came up again in the sixth inning and with Chris Young at second base Johnson laced a ball to the deepest part of the field in left-center for a triple and scoring Young giving the Diamondbacks the lead.
In the eighth inning Johnson came to the plate needing just a single to hit for the cycle. After a swinging strike, Johnson hit a Sergio Romo change-up to right field for a single. The hometown crowd gave him a standing ovation.
While the individual accomplishment probably felt great I am sure Johnson would have gladly traded hitting for the cycle in exchange for a Diamondbacks win.