Skip to content

Span extends hit streak to 28 games

Sep 18, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

Associated Press AP

In many ways, the Nationals’ late-season surge has helped keep Denard Span’s mind where it should be. Right now, he can’t worry about his own individual performance, not when his team needs to win just about every game left on the schedule to reach the postseason.

Perhaps that has allowed Span to remain relaxed at the plate and not start feeling the pressure of his ongoing hit streak, which after last night’s doubleheader has reached an impressive 28 games.

“I’ve tried not to really think about it, to be honest,” he said. “We’ve been playing good baseball, and that’s been more important to me than the hitting streak: Us winning games. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to contribute to us winning some games.”

Span has done more than his fair share to help the Nationals win 22 of the 28 games during his streak. He’s hitting .378 over this stretch, producing an average of 1.6 hits per game.

And now he’s starting to earn the attention not only of his clubhouse but of the entire baseball world. By notching singles in each game of yesterday’s doubleheader sweep of he Braves, Span became the first major-league player in two seasons to extend a hitting streak to 28 games.

Only 10 players have produced longer hitting streaks since 2000, leaving Span in some elite company.

“It’s hard to get hits in the big leagues, let alone one every single day for 20-something days,” teammate Ryan Zimmerman said. “It’s a cool thing to be a part of. He should be proud of it. It’s something not a whole lot of people do.”

Zimmerman is one of the few who truly can appreciate Span’s feat, having produced a club-record 30-game hit streak in 2009. He won’t mind one bit if he has to cede his record in the next few days.

“Span is one of those guys who struggled at the beginning of the year and kept working his butt off,” Zimmerman said. “To be where he’s at now, this is the kind of guy we knew he could be. I hope he breaks the big record. Nobody will root for him more than the guys in here.”

Span is well aware he’s fast-approaching Zimmerman’s mark.

“I’ve heard, I’ve heard,” he said. “I try not to think about that, either. Just one day at a time. I’m at 28; let’s just see what happens tomorrow.”

Span has taken care of business early in just about every game during his streak, rarely waiting until the later innings to get on the board. He kept that trend up yesterday, sending a sharp single up the middle in the bottom of the second inning of the doubleheader opener, earning plenty of applause from the smattering of fans who showed up for the makeup game.

Span needed a bit more time in the nightcap, but he still notched his hit in the bottom of the fifth with a single to left. He celebrated each of his hits yesterday by stealing second base.

“I think he trusts his swing,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “He trusts his approach, and he’s not going back and forth now with different approaches, different swings. I just see a consistent guy who has got a ton of confidence right now. Yeah, 28 games is unbelievable.”

Yet not anywhere close to the ultimate record Span is attempting to chase down. Though he has now gone a full month without even one 0-fer — the streak began on Aug. 17 — he’s only halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s all-time record, 56-game hit streak.

That boggles Span’s mind.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “That just shows what type of player [DiMaggio was]. Twenty-eight days getting a hit feels like an eternity, but to do it pretty much for two months straight is unbelievable. That just shows why he is one of the greatest players ever to play this game.”

  1. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    This might be a good time to issue a group thank you to Mark and Chase for their excellent coverage of yesterday’s marathon. The first game post was at 10:33 am, and Chase’s gamer was posted at 1:02 am. That’s a very long day, even taking account of the fact that the two of them are tag-teaming the work to some extent.

    So thanks for your care and feeding of the community that you created and have nurtured through the ups and downs of the Nats’ fortunes. And thanks to your families for putting up with some pretty crazy hours.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Well said, Deuces. +2 to Mark and Chase.

  2. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    That AJC story that Michelle pointed to this morning contains an interesting factoid. Span’s hitting streak is now the longest in the majors since Dan Uggla’s 33 game streak for the Braves in 2011. So I’m rooting hard for Span to tie that streak on Sunday!

    • dgourds - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Yeah, I noticed that too. It’s interesting also because earlier that season in 2011, Uggla was really struggling much like Span did earlier this year.

      • Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:32 AM

        Right! Actually struggling is an understatement. When he started his streak he was batting .178. By the time it finished he had raised it to .231. Finished the season at .233.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Yep, heard that on MLB Network as they are sending some love Denard’s direction. What’s great about Denard is that he is getting on base and agitating pitchers and steal bases. Ryan Zimmerman has drawn walks because pitchers are now so preoccupied with Span.

      This is what he was brought here for and in defense of many criticisms, Denard wasn’t hitting his weight much of the summer but like they say, better late than never.

  3. jd - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Ghost,

    Looking at the year in totality his numbers now look pretty much in line with his career numbers; this just shows you that a baseball season has many ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys and we should avoid passing judgement based on small and even intermediate sample sizes.

    I too was ready to toss Span aside and look for a slugger instead, now I can’t wait for another full year of his play.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      His defense was always good after his initial acclamation to Nats Park and repositioning. The great D neutralized his poor OBP but it was his awful baserunning that was unacceptable.

      It’s now his baserunning and agitating pitchers which has become so valuable along with key hits. It has helped Ryan Zimmerman immensely and Werth.

      I’m extremely happy with the “new and improved” Denard Span.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Gotta appreciate the better baserunning he has displayed during this time also. has quite a few SBs I believe.

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I am hoping this is the Span we get to see next season from opening day.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Fun article from Boz.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Who is Tanner Roark. Boz calls him the Nats version of Mike Boddicker which is a compliment. A career Minor Leaguer who suddenly emerges and helps a team in September and beyond.

    Roark is a sinker/slider/curveball guy who will occasionally throw in a changeup. His slider wasn’t great yesterday as the fish weren’t biting on most of them but they were on his curveball and changeup. Like JZim, he is reluctant to throw his changeup as he only threw 3 and got 1 nice swing and miss.

    Roark has JZim’s repertoire and the only difference is JZim has a better slider and Tanner throws a 2 seamer with dip and JZim prefers a 4 seamer with dance.

    Is he for real? Small sample sizes are hard to rely on but you have to appreciate his results and mound presence.

    • Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      JZnn has a bit more velocity on his fastball too, right?

      Let’s not forget that September baseball is, well, September baseball. Roark has been impressive, and I’ll be happy to have him compete for the No. 4 or 5 spot in our rotation next year, but I don’t think anyone should be handed a spot based on three starts. Or even on nine starts (Taylor Jordan).

      And please, can we not include in every discussion of Roark the fact he’s 7-0 as if it means something? Seriously. Boz should know better. Wins are meaningless, and they are less than meaningless (i.e., misleading) when most were accumulated in relief appearances.

      • Jw - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        Better to be 7-0 than 0-7.

      • Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        It’s surely better for the team, but says literally nothing about how well he’s pitched. Especially since 4 of his wins came in relief.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Which is why I didn’t mention his W/L. Good point though about September success.

        What’s funnier was someone’s comparison to Strasburg here last night to Roark. Davey may have topped even that comparing Roark to Greg Maddux discussing pinpoint accuracy.

        I think Roark is a possibility and unlike Maddux didn’t get any help from the ump on borderline strikes. If he had, well…….

  8. tcostant - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    The amazing thing about DiMaggio was that after hitting streak stopped, he hit in another 17 straight games after that (I think it’s 17, might be more).

  9. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Some of the comments on that Braves blog are priceless:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/braves-shut-out-again-get-swept-in-doubleheader/nZzbW/
    (h/t again to Michele S)

    “Listen to Fredi, and you know why these guys have craped in bed under his leadership, or lack thereof.Where is everyone crying for the re signing of McCann?He has once again disappeared down the stretch like 11 and 12.When FF does what Chipper did in Sept 99 then we can call him elite MVP caliber.Chris Johnson has gotta be the softest .325 hitter in history,and Justin Upton and his whopping 65 RBI’s and .258 batting average are about as big a bust as his POS brother.Wake me up when or if the Braves ever decide to play big boy baseball.Small market 95 mil payroll is a joke.”

    “CRAIG KIMBREL HAS HAD VERY, VERY FEW CLEAN FINISHES. HE’S WILD OVER HIS FIRST COUPLE OF BATTERS. THROWS VERY FEW STRIKES. BATTERS ARE SWINGING AT GARBAGE AND HE’S GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT. HE’S ALSO GAINED ALOT OF WEIGHT SINCE LAST YEAR. I DON’T FEEL GOOD WHEN HE’S OUT THERE UNLESS WE’RE UP BY 2. BUT….. AFTER TODAY HE’LL NEED MORE. HIS EXPLANATION WAS BULL SH*T. THAT MELTDOWN TOTALLY DEFLATED THE TEAMS MENTALITY. IT’S A SHAME WE’RE SUCH A SENSITIVE , FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF, TEAM. NO TOUGHNESS.”

    And these are Braves fans! Or has WODL decide to take his sweetness and light down there?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      “his POS brother”. I just fell out of my chair laughing. That is hilarious and true.

  10. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Looks like SWM moved south too. :-)

    “I’m making no further comments on this crummy team. I am sick and tired of the bums. SICK of it. I am done watching on TV. I am done reading about them. I am done following them. Until Wren and his mob are gone, I am done with the Braves. I have been a fan since 1966. No more. I am tired of it. Tired of over paid, non performing lousy so called ball players. Goodby Braves. Find some other fool to pay your bills.”

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Aren’t they in 1st place. LMAO. That is SWM.

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    The POS Upton has demonstrated why the Rays were so eager to get rid of him. Now, the possibility is that next year he will sober up (in the metaphorical sense) and start applying himself to playing baseball rather than day-trading, or whatever he has done w/ his millions. The greatest tragedies in baseball include the talented players who, through their own fault or injury, fail to reach the potential suggested by their talent. I didn’t want the Nats to sign him because I thought he was a chronic underachiever. This year he has underachieved epically. Ultimately, baseball fans hope that all under-achievers find redemption, even if they play for other teams — because fans enjoy seeing talent on display. Upton has fallen so low that he makes a sympathetic case, something like Dunn’s year for the White Sox. I just would be much happier if he didn’t turn it around while in Atlanta..

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      How many armchair GM’s here were pining for BJ 3 years ago and making wild trade proposals to get him with the promise that he was a Star who just needed a different city to shine in as Tampa wasn’t his type of place.

      I guess Wren is the idiot because he bought it!

      • Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        I don’t remember many actually. And given the price I don’t think there was ever a serious chance that Rizzo would bring him here. Just a cautionary note. Werth’s first year in DC was a disaster too. The Upton brothers are both still quite young and capable of turning things around.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        Sec222, these were people 3 years ago proposing trades with Tampa.

  12. Doc - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Some good commentary girls and guys! Winning streaks are bringing out the best in us.

    Particularly interested in Ghost’s posts on Ro–ark. So far great control, as Davey noted.

    Watching him pitch, I’ve thought that his curve is better than RZim’s, and with better command. Still needs to get around the league a few times to hear the real story.

    Totally amazed at this guy’s mediocre minor league record up until this year. Tanner must have spent a few days burning flower petals with a Himalayan holy man in Tibet in the past off-season.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Doc, thanks. Yes, a better curve than JZim but not as good of a slider.

  13. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Comments by Atlanta so-called fans are probably representative of several years of comments by WODL, JayB, Peric, etc., and I would hesitate to judge the entire Braves fan base by a small sample. On the other hand , historically poor to mediocre attendance suggests that somehow the Braves franchise has alienated that part of the market that represents the difference between fans masquerading as empty seats and a consistently full house. Maybe it has to do with years of near success capped, ultimately, by failure; maybe because of the Braves reluctance, until this year, to expend large dollars on players believed to be able to be able to push the team over the top — which so far has failed artistically if not in the W-L columns. Ironically, fans of the Nats have been blessed with low expectations until very recently and have been appreciative of management’s willingness to buy or invest in top notch talent.

    These Braves commentators sound more like Redskins fans eager to bench Robert Griffin.

  14. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Reposting this because I can:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BUaKfJBIYAAJ7HU.jpg:large

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Well then

  15. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Dammit. Still learning the ins and outs of this new blog. Try again.

    Reposting this because I can.

    photo/1

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 43 --
ATLANTA 54 46 2.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
NEW YORK 47 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 13.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter