WASHINGTON – Trea Turner thought three bags the moment he made contact. So did everyone else in the ballpark.
Turner completed his record-tying third career cycle by hitting a sixth-inning triple for the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, accomplishing the feat on his 28th birthday in a 15-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The speedy shortstop became the fifth player in major league history with three cycles, joining Adrian Beltre, Babe Herman, Bob Meusel and John Reilly, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I’m thinking triple out of the box,” Turner said of his last hit, which he drove to the right-field wall, “and just hoping that he doesn’t pick it up right away and get it in before I usually make my decision.”
As Turner's fourth hit of the day sailed down the line, the crowd rose immediately in expectation of a play at third.
And the Rays were prepared. Manuel Margot hit cutoff man Mike Brosseau. The second baseman's relay was true.
But Turner narrowly beat Yandy Diaz's tag with a headfirst slide.
“Everybody was standing up,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez of his dugout. “They were all practically wanting to go on the field. And when he was safe, there was a loud cheer. ... I love watching him run.”
Turner joins a club that is as old-fashioned as it is exclusive.
Aside from Beltre, the others with three cycles got them before the mid-1930s.
“I think it's luck, it's tools to be able to hit for power and have at least some speed,” Turner said. “I remember when Adrian Beltre did it a little while ago, I remember thinking it was pretty interesting that he's tied for the lead with three. Because you don't picture him as a speed guy.”
Turner singled in the first off Tampa Bay opener Drew Rasmussen, doubled in the third against Ryan Sherriff (0-1), then hit his 14th homer in the fourth off Michael Wacha.
Ryan Zimmerman pinch-hit in the seventh for Turner, who jammed his finger on his slide but is day-to-day.
“It's just a testament to what a good hitter he is,” Martinez said of Turner. "When he's going good, there's no telling where he can hit the ball, and hit the ball with power.
The contemporary offense came from the rest of the Nationals.
Starlin Castro hit his third homer, singled and drove in four. Josh Bell drove in three and Juan Soto had three hits and two RBIs.
Jordy Mercer added his first homer of the season for the Nationals, who pounded out 18 hits and have homered 24 times since June 19.
Washington scored four in the third, three in the sixth and four more in the eighth.
Jon Lester (2-3) allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings, striking out three and walking two.
Mike Zunino hit his 18th home run and fourth in his last five games for Tampa Bay. Díaz added his third for the Rays, who lost their eighth consecutive road game.
“I'm happy for Z,” Cash said of Zunino, a catcher now batting .210 with 36 RBIs. “I'd like to see him get on that All-Star team. He's played like an All-Star for us.”
Sherriff allowed four runs and retired only two batters after entering to start the third on the same day he was recalled from Triple-A Durham.
Rays: RHP Chaz Roe (shoulder strain) underwent season-ending surgery Wednesday. ... Tampa Bay placed RHP Ryan Thompson on the 10-day injured list with shoulder soreness, retroactive to Monday.
Nationals: RHP Daniel Hudson (right elbow) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session and will throw another on Friday. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck) threw long toss Wednesday and will throw a bullpen Friday in the range of 50-55 pitches.
HISTORY TIMES TWO
Turner’s feat continued a history-making two-game set.
On Tuesday night, Kyle Schwarber became only the second player in big league history to hit 12 homers in a 10-game stretch since at least 1901. Albert Belle also did it in 1995.
Rasmussen singled for his first big league hit in only his second career at-bat, swatting a liner to second that Mercer reached but couldn’t corral.
Rays: Will begin a three-game series against Toronto in Buffalo on Friday but have yet to decide on a starting pitcher for the opener.
Nationals: Open a four-game home set against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday with LHP Patrick Corbin (5-6, 5.33) going for his third victory in five starts.
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