Kemp completes first cycle in Padres history

Outfielder happy to make history with ninth-inning triple

Kemp completes first cycle in Padres history

DENVER -- As he chugged hard between second and third base in the ninth inning on Friday, Matt Kemp was well aware he had never hit for the cycle in a big league career that has spanned 10 seasons.

Kemp just wasn't aware that the Padres -- a franchise born in April 1969 -- hadn't had one of their own, either.

After Friday's 9-5 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field, they do now.

"When I slid into third base, [third-base coach Glenn Hoffman] says, 'That's the first one,'" Kemp said. "I said, 'Yeah, that is my first one.' He said, 'No … that's the first one for the Padres.'"

Kemp, smiling ear-to-ear as Hoffman patted him on the back, pondered that. How could a club that played its 7,444th game on Friday never have had anyone hit for the cycle?

"It's hard to believe," Kemp said. "All those great hitters that have been here, like Tony Gwynn and all those guys, haven't been able to get a hit for a cycle. I'm just glad to be able to do it."

Kemp came to bat in the ninth inning needing that triple -- often the elusive hit for batters who have fallen just shy of hitting for the cycle.

The Padres know this as much as anyone. Prior to Kemp's achievement, the team had been one hit shy of the cycle 361 times. On those occasions, 258 of them fell a triple short.

Kemp got a 1-0 slider from Rockies reliever Justin Miller that hung out over the plate. He put a good swing on it, so much so that Kemp initially thought he had his second home run of the game.

Kemp on hitting for cycle

"I was actually looking at the ball because I thought I hit a home run, but I didn't get as much as I thought I did," Kemp said. "It just kicked off the wall. Actually, [Rockies third baseman Nolan] Arenado asked me a tough question. He was, like, 'Would you rather it have been a home run or a triple?'"

Kemp, sitting in a chair in front of his locker, looked up and smiled.

"I like home runs, but it was my first cycle … so I think the cycle would be better," he said.

San Diego interim manager Pat Murphy said hitting coach Mark Kotsay told him right before Kemp's hit that a triple was on the way.

"Kotsay sat next to me and said, 'He's going to hit a ball off the right-field fence and it's going to ricochet,'" Murphy said. "He said it right before the pitch. That's the amazing part. Sure enough, it happened."

Players in the visitors' dugout at Coors Field were certainly aware that Kemp was in need of a triple -- and erupted as soon as the ball left his bat.

"It was awesome," said Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko. "I was going out to on-deck, but you could tell the guys were pumped up. Even off the bat, guys were telling him to run.

"It's pretty cool to see the first one. I knew he had the home run, I didn't know he just needed the triple. When it hit off the fence, I had a pretty good idea he'd be able to get there."

So did Kemp, who has two triples this season. He's not the runner he was early in his career, but he shifted into another gear knowing what was ahead of him.

"I think everybody's a little bit tired going into August and September. But my legs are feeling fine, feeling good," he said.

"Anytime you make history, it's special. Not everybody does that, I'm just glad I got the opportunity to do it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.