Mookie Betts' clutch homer makes him first MLB player to hit for cycle in 2018

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts added a signature highlight to what could be an MVP season Thursday. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Betts smacked a clutch home run off Ken Giles to become the first player to hit for the cycle in 2018.

Betts accomplished the feat in his final at-bat. With a 3-2 count, Betts hit an 85.6 mph slider from Giles out to left for the solo home run. That was exactly what he needed to complete the cycle.

Prior to that at-bat, Betts had already terrorized the Toronto Blue Jays. He opened the game with a single in the first inning. In the second inning, Betts picked up a crucial triple. Two innings later, he had his double.

Betts had his first shot at the cycle in the sixth inning. After getting into an 0-2 hole to start the at-bat, Betts managed to work a walk.

His ninth-inning home run capped a career night. Betts finished the game 4-for-4, with two runs, one RBI and a walk. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances.

Betts’ heroics were not enough for Boston, however. The team failed to complete the late comeback, losing 8-5. 

Betts’ production in 2018 has been nearly unmatched. Following Thursday’s game, he’s hitting an incredible .347/.434/.668, with 27 home runs.

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Mookie Betts through his career with the Red Sox
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Mookie Betts through his career with the Red Sox
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 28: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox takes the field before the start of a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 28, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 13: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox waits in the on deck circle during the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 12: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox missing a catch, but keeps the ball from going over the fence, during the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on May 12, 2015 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Red Sox 9-2. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 5: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians on opening day at Progressive Field on April 5, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 3: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox slaps hands with fans through the protective netting after scoring a run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning on June 3, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 01: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 1, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox reacts to hitting a double during Game 3 of ALDS against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on Monday, October 10, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 29: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox walks out of the clubhouse before a game against the Chicago Cubs on April 29, 2017 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Andrew Benintendi #16, Jackie Bradley Jr. #19, and Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate a victory against the Chicago Cubs on April 30, 2017 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 16: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox bats in the seventh inning of game one of a doubelheader against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on July 16, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 17: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting an RBI single during the seventh inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 17, 2017 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 7: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox is presented with the 2017 Gold Glove award before a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 7, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 9: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs out onto the field before Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on Monday, October 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 13: Boston Red Sox player Mookie Betts gestures during Red Sox spring training at the Player Development Complex at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, FL on Feb. 13, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 07: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox makes contact against the Boston Red Sox in the sixth inning at Fenway Park, on April 7, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 2: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox is doused with Gatorade after hitting three home runs in a victory against the Kansas City Royals on May 2, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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Coming into Thursday’s game, Betts trailed both Mike Trout and José Ramírez in fWAR. The gap between the three players was just 0.6, meaning you can make a legitimate case for any of that trio to win the award.

Betts no doubt saw that figure rise following his cycle, and the accomplishment gives him a key highlight that voters may remember at the end of the season.

It takes a lot to unseat Trout — and Ramírez — but, as he showed Thursday, Betts has the potential to do it.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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