A little stumble kept Mike Baxter from a rare inside-the-park grand slam. But it kept him on track for an historic performance.
Baxter became the first player in modern Portland Beavers' history to hit for the cycle Tuesday, accomplishing the feat in a 13-8 road win over the Reno Aces.
The former Texas League All-Star had gotten the home run and single out of the way when he lined a shot to right field with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
"I saw [right fielder Doug] Deeds dive for the ball, and it's big in the right-field gap here, so I was thinking of trying to get four [bases] from the beginning," Baxter said. "But I sort of stumbled around second base, and they made a good relay and got me at the plate."
The triple was his sixth, good for a share of the Pacific Coast League lead. Baxter singled again in the eighth but was confident he'd get another crack at the fifth cycle in the PCL this season.
"I thought there was a shot," he said. "The team was swinging the bats pretty well today. Luckily, I did."
Facing reliever Daniel Stange in the ninth, Baxter worked the count full before doubling home Brad Chalk for his career-high sixth RBI.
"[The cycle] was in my mind, to be honest," the former fourth-round Draft pick said. "Fifth at-bat of the day, I knew I was a double away. ... I was trying to get a fastball, something good to hit. He came in pretty hard early. That 3-2 pitch was a little more out over the plate."
Baxter joined New Orleans' Scott Cousins, Fresno's Joe Borchard and Las Vegas' Jarrett Hoffpauir -- who's done it twice -- as PCL players who've hit for the cycle this season. It came in his second career five-hit game.
"It was a good day, right up there," Baxter said. "It was probably one of the better days I've ever had in terms of getting guys in. I've been struggling to do that this season."
After batting .360 in April, the 25-year-old outfielder/first baseman cooled off to .210 in May. But he's 12-for-26 during a six-game hitting streak that's gotten his average back to .285.
"The past week has been all right," he said. "I've been trying to slow it down, working with my hitting coach, Orv Franchuk, to get some type of rhythm at the plate. The past week has been better."