BALTIMORE — Four at-bats, four hits, one unforgettable cycle in just six innings of work.
“Beyond unbelievable. An epic night,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said after Austin Hays became the sixth player in Orioles history to hit for the cycle.
Hays completed the feat with a sixth-inning double in the midst of a steady shower and shortly before play was halted for good in Baltimore’s 7-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
Hays pulled it off while batting leadoff in place of Cedric Mullins, who was given the night off. Facing Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin, Hays got an infield single in the first inning, hit a solo shot in the third and tripled in the fourth.
That seemingly left the 26-year-old outfielder plenty of time to tack on the double that would enable him to join Hall of Fame members Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. in the Orioles record book.
But a heavy rain threatened to end the game in the middle of the fifth.
“We came inside and it became unclear if we were going to finish the game or not,” Hays said. “I wasn’t sure with more rain coming if I was going to get the opportunity.”
Although play resumed after a 44-minute delay, not long after that it started raining again. It was coming down hard in the sixth when Hays completed the cycle with a double to center off Steve Cishek.
“It was crazy. I was definitely thinking about it,” Hays said. “I was thinking about getting a slider that was hanging over the middle of the plate. Sure enough, Cishek hung a slider right there.”
As he stood in the rain, Hays smiled broadly while standing at second base.
“It was a really cool feeling,” he said. “Goosebumps hit me right as I was touching second base.”
Play was halted again after Baltimore’s four-run sixth, and the tarp never came off.
Corbin (3-10) gave up three runs and seven hits over four innings. He has allowed two homers in each of his last three starts and is toting a lofty 6.60 ERA.
After Ryan Mountcastle hit an RBI double in the first inning, Corbin worked a perfect second. But Hays opened the third with a blast to left field on an 0-2 count and slipped the team’s “home run chain” around his neck after reaching the dugout.
Two batters later, Hays handed the chain to Santander, who drilled a 3-0 pitch over the center-field wall.
Baltimore starter Tyler Wells (5-4) got the win with five shutout innings, recording the final out just before the initial rain delay. Wells allowed only three hits but issued a season-high four walks. Still, it was the 13th straight start in which he limited the opposition to three runs or fewer.
“It’s a pretty special night,” Wells said. “Obviously, the big story is Hays.”
Nick Vespi pitched the sixth to earn his first career save.
Nationals: LH reliever Sean Doolittle, who’s been on the injured list since April 20 with a left elbow strain, is playing long toss at 120 feet. “He’s progressing. It’s going well,,” manager Dave Martinez said. … The team has not yet received the results of a recent examination of RHP Stephen Strasburg, who’s on the injury list with a stress reaction in his ribs. … RHP Victor Arano is ready to test his inflamed left knee by throwing without the benefit of sitting in a chair. “We told him, `You can’t sit down and pitch,”‘ Martinez said with a chuckle.
Orioles: INF Ramon Urias (left oblique strain) started light baseball activities Wednesday “just to get him going back on track.,” manager Brandon Hyde said. … Mancini (right hand) started in RF after sitting out Sunday and playing DH on Tuesday. He’s using a light pad on his bat to alleviate the soreness while at the plate. … Suspended pitcher Matt Harvey is scheduled to pitch for Class A Aberdeen on Thursday. Harvey, who is signed to a minor league deal, was suspended for 60 games on April 29 for distributing a prohibited drug of abuse.
Nationals: After taking Thursday off, Washington sends Paolo Espino (0-1, 2.29 ERA) to the mound Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the host Texas Rangers.
Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (1-1, 2.35) helps the Orioles launch a four-game series in Chicago against the White Sox on Thursday night.