PHOENIX — Coming to the plate in the seventh inning with a comfortable lead and needing a homer to hit for the cycle, D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill swore he wasn’t trying to go deep.
“I don’t think I’ve ever tried to hit a home run and actually done it,” he said. “I just took a deep breath and tried to do what I did the previous at-bats.”
Whatever the 30-year did, it worked. Hill connected with an offspeed pitch up in the zone and drove it into the left-field bleachers to complete the fifth cycle in D-backs history as his club defeated the Mariners, 7-1, on Monday.
Even though Hill wasn’t swinging for the fences, that’s not to say he wasn’t fully aware a homer was all he needed. The veteran had singled in the first, tripled in the third and doubled in the fifth.
“Oh yeah,” said Hill when asked if he knew the situation he was in before the at-bat. “It’s something you can easily get excited about and try to do too much, so I just tried to look for a good pitch.”
For his efforts, the crowd at Chase Field stood on its feet as Hill retreated to the dugout, prompting a curtain call.
“It’s a special thing,” Hill said. “The fans are here for us and they’ve been here all year. It’s nice when the recognize something, it’s the least you can do to go out and show that we appreciate them.”
Through 16 games this month, Hill is batting .302 with nine RBIs and seven extra-base hits.
“He’s staying back and finding his groove,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s got good confidence.”
The last D-backs player to hit for the cycle was Kelly Johnson on July 23, 2010, against the Giants. Coincidentally, Johnson was part of the trade that sent Hill to Arizona from Toronto last year.