BALTIMORE -- It took Aubrey Huff only four at-bats, but he used them all perfectly Friday, when he became the third Orioles player to hit for the cycle and the first to do it in Baltimore. When Huff slapped a knee-high 1-2 pitch from Los Angeles reliever Chris Bootcheck into the air in the seventh inning, Camden Yards erupted with an initial burst of noise. The cheer fully exploded when the ball finally touched down onto the grass in shallow center field. Though the bloop single had little significance in the game, it made Huff just the third player this year and the 276th in Major League history to hit for the cycle.
"For me, this is probably one of the most special days of my baseball career," Huff said. The triple was my 1,000th hit, the double was my 200th double and we're lucky enough to get the homer back from a fan. So I got all four of the balls. It'll be a pretty good memento." Huff started the hit parade in his first at-bat, when he smashed a 2-1 pitch from Angels starter Kelvim Escobar off the scoreboard in right-center field. The ball careened into the middle of the outfield and Huff motored to third base. With only 11 triples to his name in eight years in the Majors, Huff said he never expects his bulky frame to notch a three-bagger. "Obviously, as a 235-pound fat guy, to get a triple out of the way, that's something that's in the back of my mind the whole game," Huff said. Second baseman Brian Roberts was equally as blunt about Huff's second triple of the season. "Anytime a fat guy like that gets a triple, you know something's going on," Roberts said teasingly. "It's so hard to do. It's unbelievable." Huff doubled to right-center field in his next trip to the plate in the fourth inning, and stepped into the batter's box again in the fifth, this time with runners on the corners. He had five home runs this season entering Friday's game, but Huff again got the best of Escobar. He crushed a 1-2 offering over the right-field wall to give Baltimore a 7-5 lead. "After I hit the double, [the cycle] snuck in my mind," Huff said. "I haven't been hitting homers lately, so that was going to be a long shot. But then I hit that and I'm thinking, 'Gosh, man, this last at-bat is going to be stressful.'" Before Huff had consummated his incredible stunt, Camden Yards' faithful already showed its appreciation. Huff received a standing ovation as he stepped to the plate for his fourth and final at-bat. "Before I even went up to the plate, the crowd was going pretty crazy," Huff said. "I didn't really think anyone noticed. But obviously, they knew." After fouling back a good pitch on Bootcheck's first offering, Huff took a ball and then smacked the third pitch inches foul down the third-base line. If it had been fair, Huff could have easily reached second, and he said he wouldn't have stopped at first -- even to complete the cycle. "In that situation, I'm going two [bases]," Huff said. "I feel like you cheat the game if you stop at first. I wouldn't even count that as a cycle." Huff didn't have to worry about making that decision, though, as he knocked the next pitch just in front of center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. and completed his memorable night. Only Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. had previously accomplished the difficult task in Baltimore history, when they did it in 1960 and 1984, respectively. And though this is Huff's first season with the Orioles, he said he knows exactly what the feat means to him and the team. "This is a great tradition for baseball," Huff said. "A lot of the fans here are die-hard. This is obviously one of the biggest franchises out there, history-wise, so to be able to do that and be the only guy to do that [in Baltimore], that means a little bit more." Huff tipped his helmet to the cheering crowd and resurfaced from the dugout when the fans remained on their feet after he was taken out of the game for a pinch-runner. Although Baltimore wound up losing the game on a home run in the ninth inning, no one could ignore Huff's outstanding performance. "He's been swinging the bat really well lately," outfielder Jay Gibbons said. "It actually crossed my mind after the second hit, and then when he hit the homer, it was like, 'Oh my gosh.' It really was a special night for him, and I wish we could celebrate it more."
Geremy Bass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.