HOUSTON -- In any other ballpark, George Kottaras would have had a three-homer game on Saturday night. Instead, thanks to the spacious center field at Minute Maid Park, the Brewers' backup catcher "settled" for being the first Major Leaguer this season to hit for the cycle.
"Hitting [for] the cycle and having three homers in a game, they're both rarities," Kottaras said. "I'll take it, for sure."
Kottaras hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, tripled in the sixth, singled in the seventh and completed the cycle with a ground-rule double in the ninth, making him the seventh player in Brewers history to complete the feat. He's the first Major Leaguer to do it since the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez last July 31.
The cycle has been unusually rare this season, considering that four players did it in 2010 -- including Brewers backup outfielder Jody Gerut -- and eight in '09. There have been multiple cycles in the Majors in every year since 1992, when the Astros' Andujar Cedeno was the only one to accomplish the feat.
Kottaras is the seventh player in Brewers history to hit for the cycle, and the third straight bench player. Gerut had all of 71 at-bats with Milwaukee last season, but hit for the cycle on May 8 in Arizona. Catcher Chad Moeller split time behind the plate in 2004 with Gary Bennett and Mark Johnson, but hit for the cycle on April 27 of that season.
The other Brewers to do it are Paul Molitor (1991), Robin Yount ('88), Charlie Moore ('80) and Mike Hegan ('76). Kottaras, Moeller and Moore all did it as the starting catcher.
Both Kottaras' double and triple sailed to straightaway center field, where "Tal's Hill" guards a center field fence 436 feet from home plate. The double -- the cycle-clinching hit -- bounced at the base of the hill and cleared the wall. Had it not cleared, Kottaras probably would have kept chugging to third base.
"It's natural instinct to keep going," he said. "I'm not going to pull up just for the cycle. You just play the game the right way, the way it's supposed to be played."
At second base, Kottaras celebrated by throwing both hands over his head, the Brewers' "beast mode" celebration. In the dugout, teammates did the same.
"They were going nuts," Kottaras said. "It made me feel good inside."
It felt even better considering that Kottaras usually only starts in a battery with Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf. Chris Narveson started on Saturday, but with right-hander Bud Norris on the mound for the Astros, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke stocked his starting lineup with left-handed hitters.
That meant Kottaras got the call. He turned in his first career four-hit game.
"I told him [on Friday], and I didn't even know [the plan]: 'Be ready. You might catch tomorrow,'" Narveson said.
Who had Kottaras in the "first Major Leaguer to hit for the cycle" pool?
"It's just a crazy game," he said, "and you never know what you're going to get."