Harper, Ichiro, Kemp each make their mark on Friday

Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper and Ichiro Suzuki each left their own mark on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. While each achievement had its own level of significance each one certainly made a mundane Friday afternoon into something a little more exciting.

Prior to the start of play on Friday just two teams out of the 30 in baseball today had never had a player hit for the cycle. By the end of the night that number was whittled down to just one. The San Diego Padres were one of those teams, which does seem odd as one would have thought that Tony Gwynn also know as “Mr. Padre” had to have hit for the cycle in his career. Prior to the Padres taking on the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, I would have easily believed it if you had told me that Tony Gwynn had hit for the cycle during his storied career, easily. Matt Kemp would have believed you too until he was standing on third base in the top of the ninth inning, just having completed his first career cycle. One of the Padres coaches had to explain to him the significance of the moment.

“I was like, `Yeah, that is my first one,'” said Kemp. “He said, `No, that’s the first one for the Padres.’ I was like, `Wow.’ It’s hard to believe, all the great hitters that have been here, Tony Gwynn and all those guys haven’t been able to hit for the cycle. I’m just glad to be able to do it.”

Kemp finished the day having gone 4-5 with 4 RBI. Prior to hitting his triple in the ninth inning, Kemp started off with a two-run shot in the first inning, a single in the third and an RBI double in the seventh. The Miami Marlins now remain the only team that has never had a player hit for the cycle.

Speaking of the Marlins …. 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki got his 4, 191st professional hit off of Jaime Garcia on a single to left during the fifth inning of the Marlins’ 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. 4, 191 hits is the same number of hits that Ty Cobb had during his storied and Hall of Fame career. While tying Ty Cobb isn’t an “official record” it is certainly a nice distinction to have. The number includes Ichiro’s 1, 278 professional hits in Japan but Ichiro also inched that much closer to another huge milestone. He is now just 87 hits shy of the coveted and very exclusive 3, 000 hit club during his time in Major League Baseball. Marlins’ manager Dan Jennings said of Ichiro, and I doubt there are very many people out there who would disagree when talking about the guy who in 2001 was not only the American League Rookie of the Year but also the AL MVP, 

“Plain and simple. He’s a Hall of Famer. He continues to defy age. He gives tremendous at-bats. He ranges in the outfield. He’s got to be one of the most prepared players of this era.”

Bryce Harper’s accomplishment wasn’t as spectacular as Ichiro’s or as special as Kemp’s but the 22-year-old Washington Nationals’ outfielder hit a home run off of the San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain in the fifth inning of the Nationals loss to the Giants Friday, making him the first National League player to hit 30 home runs this season. It’s interesting because it has already been accomplished by five American League players in 2015: Nelson Cruz (34), Mike Trout (33), Chris Davis (32), Josh Donaldson (31) and Albert Pujols (30). Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins was on pace to hit the mark first in the NL. He’s been out for most of the season with a broken wrist leaving the task up to Harper to complete, which he did when he took Cain deep for three runs Friday night. 

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