Despite entering the day in a month-long slump, Abraham Almonte wasn't looking to do anything out of the ordinary on Saturday.
"It just felt like a normal day," he said. "I have my same routine every day, hitting on the tee to start, things like that. I just got to the ballpark and wasn't doing anything differently than I always do."
Turns out, it was anything but just another night at AT&T Field in Chattanooga
Almonte hit for the cycle in a 4-for-5, four-RBI effort, leading the Double-A Jackson Generals to a 13-1 thrashing of the Lookouts.
It was the first cycle in franchise history, dating back to 1998, when the Generals were known as the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. But it was the second cycle in 10 days for a Mariners prospect after Carlos Triunfel accomplished the feat for Triple-A Tacoma on April 17.
The switch-hitting outfielder, who batted .177 through his first 19 games, hit a solo homer in in the third inning to give Jackson a 2-1 lead. His bases-loaded triple an inning later highlighted a five-run outburst that built the cushion to 7-1. Almonte singled in the fifth and got his fifth RBI of the evening, but James Jones was cut down at the plate on a throw by right fielder Joc Pederson.
The base hit set up a chance to complete the cycle in the sixth inning, but Almonte was called out on strikes. Coming up again in the ninth, he was fully aware of the opportunity before him.
"The guys in the dugout told me a couple times I needed a double," said the 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic. "But I was just trying to hit the ball and put it in play. I didn't care so much about the double."
Batting from the left side, Almonte lined a 2-2 changeup from Lookouts reliever Greg Infante to right field for the double he needed to complete one of baseball's rarest single-game feats.
"It felt great when I got to second," Almonte said after completing the Minors' fifth cycle of the season. "I was just telling myself in my mind when I got there, 'Wow, I did it.' My teammates were really excited, too, and they were telling me I did a great job and all that."
Acquired from the Yankees organization in February for reliever Shawn Kelley, the 5-foot-9, 205-pound outfielder recorded his first four-hit game since last June 6 for Double-A Trenton. He hadn't driven in four runs since Aug. 5, 2011 with Class A Advanced Tampa. The cycle, however, was a first during his eight-year Minor League career.
Almonte said it took some time to get comfortable in his second professional organization and struggled at the plate in his first month with the Generals. He was 1-for-17 through six games and was batting .130 on April 19. He had begun to turn it on recently, going 5-for-16 with a homer, four RBIs, four runs scored and four walks in his previous five games.
After Saturday's 4-for-5 showing, which bounced his average up to .224, Almonte said he hopes it's a sign of better things to come.
"It feels good to get the cycle," he said. "I know things like that aren't going to happen very much. Everyone gets in a slump every now and then, but I was just waiting for something to help me get out of it. And this may be it."
Mariners No. 6 prospect Brad Miller hit his fourth homer of the season and finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Jackson starter Roenis Elias (1-2) allowed one run on four hits and three walks and struck out six over six frames en route to his first Double-A win.