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Turner's cycle sends Bisons out in style

Released in May, Mets prospect delivers rare club 6-for-6 game
September 6, 2010
In a game without meaning in the International League standings, Justin Turner ensured that the 10,007 fans on hand in Rochester to see Monday's season finale against Buffalo would remember his name.

With a triple to lead off the eighth inning, Turner completed the cycle, becoming the first Triple-A Bisons player to do so since April 26, 2004 in a 16-1 shellacking of the Red Wings.

Turner singled in the ninth for his sixth hit of the game, a one-game total unmatched by a franchise player since Howard "Butch" Myers went 6-for-7 on June 29, 1936. The two previous games also were in Rochester.

Turner, who signed with the Mets after the Orioles designated him for assignment in May, experienced immediate success on the banks of Lake Erie. In his three-plus months with the Bisons, Turner's average improved by 70 points and his slugging increased by more than 100.

"I've been feeling good this last month, month-and-a-half of the season," said Turner. "I guess I was lucky -- I hit them where guys weren't standing. I was 0-for-5 last night and hit a lot of balls hard."

Turner -- and Buffalo -- got off the mark in the top of the first against Rochester starter Anthony Swarzak (5-12). After Andy Green singled, Turner's shot to center hopped the fence for a ground-rule double. Green later crossed the plate.

When Turner batted again in the third, there were two outs, and the score was still 1-0. He promptly smashed a solo shot over the left-field fence.

Turner led off the fifth, and he ripped the first pitch he saw into center field. The 25-year-old later came around to score on a passed ball as Buffalo opened its lead to 5-0.

The second baseman by trade -- starting Monday as the designated hitter -- got his first shot to complete the cycle with two outs in the sixth. Instead, he ripped Chris Province's 1-1 pitch into center for a single, his fifth hit of the game.

By the time Turner came to the plate to lead off the eighth, Buffalo had an 8-1 lead and Jose Lugo was on the mound. For the fourth time in the game, he sent a pitch in the direction of Rochester center fielder Brandon Roberts. Turner scampered all the way to third on the deep shot to complete the club's first cycle in more than six years.

"The most ironic thing is I needed the triple for the cycle, because I hadn't hit one all year," said Turner. "When I saw it got over the second baseman's head, I put my head down and started going, and I wasn't going to stop."

That triple -- Turner's first since Aug. 31, 2008 -- got the Bisons off and running in the eighth. Russ Adams followed with a home run, and Buffalo eventually took a 14-1 lead into the ninth.

Second baseman Toby Gardenhire came in to pitch for the Red Wings in the ninth. The converted position player induced an infield grounder, but the result was the same. Turner reached after D'Angelo Jimenez, who had just entered the game at third base, ranged to his backhand but was unable to make the play. It was Turner's sixth -- and shortest -- hit of the game.

"It's a pretty wild year for me," said Turner. "I started out with Baltimore with hopes of maybe making the club out of Spring Training. Then a couple days into the season, I ended up getting called up with them and then sent back down and then designated a few weeks later. But I was claimed by the Mets, which was exciting."

Originally selected in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft by the Reds and sent to Baltimore in a December 2008 trade, Turner acknowledged that being in a lineup with productive veterans helped him.

"Mike Hess[man], [Mike] Jacobs, [Jesus] Feliciano -- all these guys were great and putting up good numbers," he said. "Being in the lineup with those guys every day made it easier to put together good at-bats."

While Turner was setting records on Labor Day, teammate Josh Stinson was quietly effective on the mound. He went the distance, allowing a run on just three hits to pick up his second Triple-A victory. A 37th-round pick in 2006 out of Atlanta, Stinson had previously pitched as many as seven innings in an outing four times, but he had never gone nine until Monday's fourth Triple-A start.

Brendon Desrochers is an editor for