Biggio hits for the cycle

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Janey Murray

Craig Biggio opened the 2002 season in a bit of a slump.

But you wouldn’t have been able to tell that by the way he was swinging the bat at Coors Field on April 8.

It only took four hits from the future Hall of Famer to spoil Colorado’s home opener, as the Astros defeated the Rockies 8-4 while Biggio hit for the cycle for the first time in his 13-year career.

“It’s hard enough to get one hit, much less four,” Astros manager Jimy Williams told the Associated Press. “When you have a single, double, triple and homer, that’s pretty special. It doesn’t happen very often.”

The Astros entered the game at 3-3 following a six-game homestand to open the season, with Biggio was batting a team-low .174. His offensive outburst in Denver raised that average all the way to .296.

“It certainly came at the right time, because he drove in some big runs for us,” Williams said. “That’s got to pick him up. It certainly picks us all up as a team.”

Biggio led off the game with a single in the top of the first, but was later retired when Jeff Bagwell grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the top of the third, Biggio reached on a one-out triple, coming around to score on a single from Brad Ausmus to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. He added a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to put Houston ahead 6-0.

Colorado wasn’t going to give him a chance to complete the cycle in the top of the sixth, opting to walk him intentionally with two outs and a runner on second.

But in the top of the eighth, Biggio came to the plate with one last chance to finish the job.

“Well, you know what you need,” Biggio said. “But the last thing you’re trying to do is hit a double. I was just trying to hit the ball hard. That’s what I’m trying to do every time up.”

His strategy was successful, as he lined a two-run double down the left field line to pad the Houston lead and complete the cycle in front of a sellout crowd.

“It’s a special day,” Biggio said. “It’s a lucky day when something like that happens. I caught a couple of breaks with the ball staying inside the line.”

Biggio finished the day at 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. It marked the sixth time in Astros history that a player had hit for the cycle, and the first since Bagwell had done it in 2001. Seventeen years later, Biggio’s son, Cavan, hit for the cycle for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rockies manager Buddy Bell was not naïve to the fact that he was witnessing greatness from a pair of future Hall of Famers in Biggio and Bagwell.

“Biggio is one of the premier leadoff men who has played the game, and Bagwell is just so productive,” Bell said. “They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I think it’s neat and good for baseball that these two guys have been able to stay with the same organization.”

Biggio was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015. Bagwell would join him in Cooperstown shortly afterward, earning election in 2017.

Janey Murray is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series