Whit falls single shy of Royals' cycle history

Whit falls single shy of Royals' cycle history

KANSAS CITY -- Whit Merrifield nearly became the first Royals batter to hit for the cycle in 27 years on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.

When Merrifield came up to the plate in the eighth inning needing only a single to complete the cycle in the Royals' eventual 10-7 loss to the Tigers, here's the advice he got from first-base coach Rusty Kuntz:

"He said, 'Hit a homer and miss first base,'" Merrifield said.

Merrifield instead flied out to right against Tigers right-hander Alex Wilson.

"I got the pitch I was looking for, a changeup," Merrifield said. "I got the barrel on it, just got it up too much. I would have liked to have had that back."

Still, Merrifield, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a third-inning homer, said he'll remember the experience.

"Opportunities like that don't come around very often," Merrifield said. "Just the ovation I got before that last at-bat, that's something I'll take with me awhile. That was really cool."

Merrifield would have become the first player for the Royals to hit for the cycle since Hall of Famer George Brett did so on July 25, 1990, in Toronto. Merrifield was 18 months old when that happened.

Merrifield said no one told him who was the last.

"I'm guessing it was George, though," Merrifield said. " ... Any time your name's next to George's, it would look good."

Merrifield also nearly became just the seventh player in history to accomplish the cycle in reverse order: home run, triple, double, single -- that's according to research done by the YES Network. Rajai Davis was the last to do it in 2016 with the Indians.

Merrifield hit his sixth homer this season in the third, tripled in the fourth, and doubled in the sixth.

"I was seeing the ball really well," Merrifield said. "[Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris] has a really good arm, an electric arm. I was doing a good job of not trying to do too much."

It was quite the show for manager Ned Yost to watch.

"He had a great night," Yost said. "I sat there at his last at-bat trying to remember if I've ever had a player that hit for the cycle. I think you would probably remember that, and I didn't remember one. I was really rooting for him."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.