HOUSTON (Bottom of the Fourth) - In a week in which two no-hitters were thrown, history was almost made a third time on Sunday night when Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros came within a single, double, triple and home run of a cycle.
Hitting for the cycle is almost as rare as throwing a no-hitter, having happened just under 300 times in major league history. Bourn was just four different hits away from becoming the seventh Astro to accomplish the feat.
After his first at bat, Bourn said he knew he had a chance. "I almost got the hardest part out of the way first. If (Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew) McCutchen hadn't run that ball down in the gap, it could have gone for a triple."
In his next two at bats, Bourn said, he hit balls that could have been a single and a double, respectively, had there been no fielders standing where they were (in their usual places). And that was a distinct possibility, according to Neil Walker, Pittsburgh's second baseman. "It never crossed my mind to stand anywhere other than where I always stand, between first and second base. What are you talking about?" commented Walker.
Finally, in the ninth inning with his team down by one, the light-hitting speedster came within a foot of tying the game with a home run. "It was so close," he recalled, "if that pitch was just 12 inches lower I would have crushed it."
And that would sealed the deal. Provided, of course, that the other three caveats already mentioned in this hypothetical scenario had gone Bourn's way.