When we look back on 2015, there will be a lot of disappointing memories. A lot of expectations that weren't met. A lot of frustrating moments on which to hang our heads. But there will also be tonight. The night Matt Kemp made history and hit for the first ever San Diego Padres cycle.
For a franchise that has had little to celebrate, especially in recent years, finally getting this monkey off our backs is such a mix of positive emotions. I know I personally was a bit of a wreck after it happened. I had just woken up from a food coma and looked up at the TV to see the game was almost over. Thankfully the Padres were leading and I settled in to watch them secure the victory. Kemp came up to the plate, and over on Twitter I saw jbox tweeting about Kemp being a triple away from the cycle.
So I sat and watched. I watched Matt Kemp hit the ball to right center. I watched the ball bounce off the wall. I watched Kemp round second base and glide into third, with the ball still in the hands of a Rockies outfielder. All the while I listened to Mark Grant and Jesse Agler excitedly call what will probably be the most important hit of the Padres' 2015 season.
And then after a moment of shocked silence from the booth, Mudcat took the words right out of my mouth. "THAT JUST HAPPENED."
I was jumping up and down and screaming. My parents were in the room with me and they don't know a lot about sports, so they weren't really sure what was going on. I had to explain what a cycle was a few times, and then explain the significance of it. But I found it inexplicably hard to put the latter into words. I just kept saying, "It's the first one! Ever! They finally got one! This is huge!!"
And in between all of that and getting on my computer to tweet and post on Facebook, I started to feel a little bit of guilt that I hadn't watched Kemp's first three hits. It's kind of silly, but I just wish that I hadn't been sleeping all evening and that I was there to witness the entirety of the accomplishment, and not just the climactic ending, in real time.
So for my sake, and for all of us who weren't sitting in front of our TVs all night, let's recap Kemp's historic night at the plate, one magical hit at a time:
The home run
The night started off with a bang. With Derek Norris on base and one out in the 1st, Kempy launched the ball deep to center for a two-run homer, giving the Padres an early lead. It was his 13th home run of the season.
Kemp led off the 3rd inning with what is highly regarded as the easiest of the hits to get in a cycle. On a 2-1 count, he singled on a line drive to center.
Kemp grounded out in his third at-bat of the night, but on his fourth attempt he made progress. With two outs in the 7th inning, he hit another line drive to - you guessed it - center field. The hit not only got him that much closer to the cycle, but it brought home another Padres run, giving them a 5-4 lead.
The always-elusive triple becomes even more elusive when you're one hit shy of a cycle. That's what made tonight's feat even more amazing. The Padres were up by three runs in the 9th and, barring a disaster, were set to get the win as long as the bullpen could close it out. Sure, maybe if the 'pen did blow it and the Rockies tied up the game in the bottom of the inning then Maybe Kemp could get another shot. Thankfully he didn't need it. On the second pitch, he hit the ball to center once again (and I really think we should credit Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, as well as Coors Field, for the assist tonight) and was off and running. The hardest-to-get hit in baseball, and Matt Kemp gets it in the top of the 9th to complete the first ever cycle in franchise history.
It's funny to think about this time last year and how much I loathed Matt Kemp. When Preller signed him in the offseason I had reservations about welcoming him into my heart as a Padre. But like everyone else, I couldn't help but fall prey to his charm. And even when he ran into hitting troubles for a lot of the season, I rooted for him because he wore that Padres uniform. Now, he will be immortalized in all the Padres history books. When I'm older I'll tell my grandkids that I was on my couch half-asleep as I watched Matt Kemp hit the triple to secure the first Padres cycle in history.
It's a good night to be a Padres fan.