Kinsler's journey toward a Robinson-like performance began in the bottom of the first. The Orioles took a 2-0 lead against Rangers starter Kris Benson and Kinsler responded immediately with a leadoff double against Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson."They got up two runs in the first and I was just trying to get us back in the game," Kinsler said. "I was able to hit a double and the rest of the game I was just trying to play the game. I'm not thinking about the cycle, I'm thinking about doing what you need to do to win the game." The Rangers trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the third when Kinsler came up with one out and nobody on base. This time he hit one into the seats in deep left-center field for a home run and the Rangers added two more that inning to take a 4-3 lead. That was still the score when Kinsler followed a leadoff walk to Elvis Andrus with a single to left field in the bottom of the fourth. Then he did what Robinson did so well so many years ago: He became a force on the basepaths. Young hit a ground ball to the right side. Brian Roberts grabbed it going to his right, then spun and went to second for the force. But Kinsler's speed forced him to hurry the throw and the ball got away from shortstop Cesar Izturis. Andrus scored and Kinsler was safe at second. Kinsler then stole third base at the front of a double steal. Ultimately he scored on a single by Byrd as the Rangers broke the game open with an eight-run rally. Kinsler drove in the final run with his second single of the inning. That left only the triple which he needed for the cycle and his chance came in the sixth after reliever Brian Bass walked Andrus with one out. The Rangers led 13-4 and the big mystery was a triple from Kinsler. Sure enough ... Kinsler worked the count full and then ripped a drive high and deep toward the 407-foot sign in right-center. "When the ball got in the air, everybody in the dugout was on the top step, hoping it would fall in," Byrd said. It did. It fell beyond the reach of center fielder Adam Jones and bounced up against the top of the wall. Kinsler knew where he was headed. "I knew I had the opportunity to hit for the cycle," Kinsler said. "I was hoping I got it over his head and then I was hoping it would rattle around. Whether he got it cleanly off the wall or not, I was going to go for it." Kinsler made it to third base easily. He would add a double in the eighth inning to finish off what he called the greatest night of his career. "Opening Day , my first big league game was pretty special," Kinsler said. "But as far as performance on the field, this has to top it." It has to be special when it's a performance worthy of Jackie Robinson.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less