ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The cycle complete after his headfirst slide into third, Ian Kinsler emphatically slapped his hands together while still kneeling over the base.
"Opening day, my first game in the big leagues was pretty special," Kinsler said after Wednesday night's game. "As far as performance on the field, this one has to top that."
It was a complete game that Kinsler hopes is just the beginning of a complete season.
His first All-Star season a year ago was cut six weeks short by a sports hernia, after stints on the disabled list each of his first two seasons.
Kinsler is off to an incredible start. While the 6-for-6 night certainly boosted the numbers, the second baseman and leadoff hitter has reached base in all nine games.
Going into Thursday's off day for Texas, Kinsler was third in the majors with a .474 batting average (18-for-38), tops with 18 hits and seven doubles. Kinsler's 13 RBIs matched Albert Pujols for the most in the majors, and his 11 runs were one short of leading.
"He's certainly our catalyst," manager Ron Washington said.
Kinsler wasn't finished after his triple in the sixth inning of a 19-6 victory over Baltimore that made him only the fourth player in Rangers history to complete the cycle.
With another double and another run in the eighth, Kinsler became the first Texas player with six hits in a nine-inning game and matched team records with his five runs and four extra-base hits.
"It's a career-type game," said teammate Michael Young, a five-time All-Star who is one of his best friends.
Kinsler became the first major leaguer since August 1894 — yes, nearly 115 years — to have a six-hit cycle in a nine-inning game, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Only three other players in the past 55 years have had six hits, five runs and four extra-base hits in a game, the most recent being Shawn Green of the Los Angeles Dodgers seven years ago.
When he got hurt last season, Kinsler was hitting .319 with 18 homers, 71 RBIs, 41 doubles, 102 runs and 26 steals through 121 games. He was fourth in the AL in average and finished eighth in runs and 10th in stolen bases even without playing the final six weeks.
After taking over as the starting second baseman as a rookie in 2006 following the trade of Alfonso Soriano, Kinsler hit .476 the first two weeks before being sidelined for six weeks by a dislocated left thumb. He missed a month in 2007 because of a stress fracture in his left foot.
Kinsler knew he needed a triple to complete the cycle when he came to bat in the sixth with Texas up 13-4. His deep flyball headed to the right-center field gap, where it bounced against the wall, Kinsler took off running and wasn't going to stop until he got to third.
The situation was different when he batted in the first, with Texas down 2-0. Kinsler hit the first pitch he saw into the left-field corner for a double, then scored on Josh Hamilton's single to quickly cut the deficit in half.
"All I was thinking is get us back in the game somehow, score a run somehow," Kinsler said. "After that, you play the game, you take every situation, every at-bat for what it is. ... It just kind of worked out."
Kinsler hit his third homer of the season in the third, a solo shot that got Texas within 3-2. Then he had two singles in the fourth, when the Rangers scored eight unearned runs.
"It was pretty obvious. You could see it coming," Orioles catcher Chad Moeller said of Kinsler's big night. "It didn't matter what we threw. The last one from (Matt) Albers almost bounced. It just didn't matter."
There was only one six-hit game in the majors all last season, though the cycle was the second this week. Orlando Hudson of the Los Angeles Dodgers did it Monday.
Notes:@ Marlon Byrd was 5-for-6 on Wednesday, marking the first time Texas had two players with at least five hits in the same game. ... The Rangers have homered in all nine games, a team record to start a season. Texas leads the majors with 19 homers, and is the only team to homer in every game. ... RHP Dustin Nippert, who began the season on the disabled list with a back injury, sustained a strained rib cage muscle during his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Frisco. The Rangers have ended that stint, and can't send him back out for at least a week.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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