Haley zooms to cycle for Biscuits
Jim Haley had never been to AT&T Field in Chattanooga before Friday. As he and his Double-A Montgomery teammates strolled the grounds pregame, he noticed the warning track was unlike any he'd seen in a baseball life of 25 years. This one wasn't so much dirt and dust as it
The surface might have been the first ingredient of the Rays prospect's cycle as the Biscuits rolled to a 17-6 rout of the Lookouts, but sneaky speed, a little bit of luck and a hot bat rounded out the recipe.
Gameday box score
Haley racked up four RBIs and scored three times in the milestone effort. It started with a swing at the second pitch he saw from right-hander
Haley still doesn't know because his teammates were too rowdy in congratulating him to explain what just happened.
"I was so gassed after that inside-the-park home run," he said. "I got in the dugout and my legs were gone. Then I hit that triple and I'm like, 'Oh, my goodness gracious. You gotta be kidding me.'"
Haley's follow up three-bagger was a little less strenuous. He hacked the first pitch from southpaw
"I've always been an athlete," said Haley, who set a career high with 10 total bases. "I played football. I think it kind of deceives pitchers and the other team when they see a corner guy get on base. It's almost like, 'Oh, don't worry about him, he's not going to do anything.'"
With the secret out and the more challenging half of the cycle complete, Haley didn't ponder the possibilities. He grounded out in the fourth and sixth, then tagged right-hander
Even then, Montgomery had only five outs with which to play and Haley didn't expect another at-bat. When his spot came around with two outs in the ninth and a position player on the mound, he felt even worse about his chances to make history.
"I think I would rather face the actual pitcher," said Haley, who's batting .302 with a .930 OPS in August. "They bring in these position guys and you kinda psych yourself out. They come up there kind of lobbing the ball in there. I was like, 'I know I'm going to get big here. I know I'm gonna roll over.' My thought process was, 'Forget about the double, forget about the cycle. Your only goal here is to put the barrel on the ball. That will be a win for me.'"
Sure enough, the Biscuits' 25th hit of the night was Haley's RBI double off infielder
But Haley's cycle clincher was last, setting a franchise record for hits in a game. The previous record of 24 was set on July 22, 2004. It was the Biscuits' second cycle of the season after
"I think that's the only way a cycle happens," Haley said. "The stars align that night."
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.