Noel Cuevas flew into third base and stood up as a player with an updated resume -- even if not everyone in the ballpark knew it at the time.
The Rockies outfield prospect tripled leading off the seventh inning to complete the cycle, then homered again to cap a 5-for-5 night as Triple-A Albuquerque thumped Reno, 13-2, on Wednesday at Greater Nevada Field.
With a single, double and homer in his first three trips to the plate, it dawned on Cuevas in an unlikely place that he was on the brink of some personal history.
Video: Isotopes' Cuevas triples for cycle
"For some reason, it got into my mind when I was on defense," he said. "I was out in center field and was thinking to myself, 'Holy crap, I just need a triple for the cycle.' I told myself, 'Don't think about it, don't think about it.'"
Needing the toughest leg to complete the cycle, Cuevas got it in the seventh. As the first batter against reliever Joey Krehbiel, the Puerto Rico native laced a liner over the head of right fielder Abraham Almonte and legged out his first triple of the season. The cycle not only was the ninth in Albuquerque history -- the first since Pat Valaika wrapped up the feat on April 8, 2017 -- but it was the second of the night in the Minor Leagues after Ryan Cordell completed one for Triple-A Charlotte.
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"I went to home plate and really wasn't thinking about it and got a good pitch to hit and hit it the other way," Cuevas said. "When I saw that the right fielder couldn't make the play off the wall, that's when I was like, 'OK, I better get to third base. I'm not going to stop no matter what. I might get thrown out here by 20 feet, but I'm going to third base.' I've never [hit for the cycle] in my life. It's been 10 years in professional baseball. If I have an opportunity to do it tonight, I'm going to do it."
At third base, the celebration started.
"The cool thing was that nobody really talked to me about it," he said of his teammates. "Nobody said, 'Hey, you need a triple.' It was really quiet. Nobody said a word, but when it happened, I could just see that everybody knew what was going on. I looked to the dugout and everybody was jumping around."
Only one Isotope seemed unaware of the moment.
2019 Minor League milestones
"I don't even think my manager [Glenallen Hill] knew what was going on," Cuevas said. "I told him at third base. I said, 'G-Hill, do you know what just happened?' He said, 'What?' 'I just hit for the cycle, man.'
"He said, 'I don't care. You've got to pick me up [coming around second base].' I said, 'G, I was going to go to third anyways.' I love G-Hill."
Cuevas kicked off his historic night by lashing a single to right field to drive in the first of the Isotopes' five runs in the first inning. In the second, he sparked a two-run outburst by driving an RBI double to left. Two innings later, Cuevas connected on his first home run of the season, a two-out solo shot to right.
Cuevas put the exclamation point on his night in the eighth when he connected on his second homer, a two-out, two-run blast to left-center. It was the third five-hit night of his career and first since July 14, 2016 with Double-A Hartford. And it was the 27-year-old's third career two-homer game and first since June 10, 2017 with Albuquerque. The five RBIs and five runs scored marked new career highs.
"I didn't get complacent," he said. "I'm having a good night. I know there's a lot of tough nights out there. I don't want to throw away at-bats right now when I'm feeling this good because I know that at-bats are going to get tough at some point. It's just baseball.
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"I just put my mind into, 'OK, I'm not going to throw away this at-bat. I'm going to work hard, work the count and try to get a good pitch to put a good swing on.' I got to two strikes and said, 'OK, let's battle.' I fouled back a fastball and then the next pitch was a changeup and I was just able to put the barrel on it. I felt like I didn't even swing that hard, and it just caught the barrel and went. After that happened I was like, 'Oh, my god, this is amazing. Best offensive night of my career.'"
The Isotopes improved to 5-2, pounding out 18 hits in their fourth game scoring at least seven runs. Cuevas was one of six Albuquerque players with multiple hits. While he was riding the high of his best night at the plate, he was quick to keep things in perspective.
"The perfect example is that last night here in Reno, we had a really difficult night," Cuevas said. "It was windy and it was really cold. I went 0-for-2, didn't feel good at the plate, got hit in my last at-bat, hit by a pitch in the back. I was like, 'OK, I'd rather get hit right now because I'm really not doing it at home plate.' The next day I come back, it's a little better, not so much wind. It was still cold, but it was a little more comfortable and I ended up having a great day.
"That's how fast things can change in baseball."