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Span’s streak snapped at 29

Sep 20, 2013, 11:24 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The longest hitting streak in the major leagues has ended, as Nationals center fielder Denard Span failed to collect a hit Thursday night for the first time since August 16.

Span’s streak of 29 consecutive games with at least one hit is the longest such streak at the major league level since Atlanta’s Dan Uggla and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier each topped 30 games in 2011. Uggla’s streak was the longest that year, at 33 consecutive games.

“What an incredible run [Denard] had. We tip our caps to him,” said starter Gio Gonzalez, who moved to 11-7 with tonight’s win.

“He’s an unbelievable ball player. He showed that he can be one of the best on top of the lineup.”

The gold standard when it comes to hitting streaks is, of course, the major league record 56-game run compiled by legendary New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio over two months in 1941.

“That will probably never be broken. That’s really tough. You gotta tip your cap to Joe DiMaggio because that’s a record that I don’t think will ever be broken,” said outfielder Bryce Harper.

“Denard made a good run at it. I tip my cap to him and I think everyone in baseball did.”

Though it was in an otherwise losing effort, the Miami Marlins succeeded in limiting Span to an 0-4 night at the plate.

Starter Henderson Alvarez held Span to a fly out and a pair of groundouts, to first base and to shortstop.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and the streak likely on the line, Span stepped into the box against reliever A.J. Ramos.

The right-hander ran the count to 2-1 before Span fouled off a pair of inside fastballs, breaking his bat on the second.

The crowd came alive as he replaced his bat and stepped back in, just barely nicking Ramos’ next offering for a foul tip.

Span swung and missed at the next pitch, a 79 mph curveball in the dirt that was blocked by catcher Koyie Hill.

“I’ll be honest, I was definitely upset,” Span said in the clubhouse afterwards.

“It was a few things — I haven’t not gotten a hit in 29 days, so that felt weird, walking back to the dugout without getting a hit. I felt sad, like I let myself down, let the fans down, they’ve been rooting for me…but once I hear the round of applause, it did make me feel a bit better.”

The 25,945 in attendance did their best to soften the long walk back to the dugout, as the crowd rose to their feet in recognition of Span’s achievement.

“[The crowd's reaction] felt good. I’ve gotten a lot of scrutiny this year, with how I started, and for me to do what I’ve done, and give the fans an opportunity to see what I bring to the table,” Span said. “

It’s just been good for them to see that I am a good player, and Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals brought me here for a reason. It’s just an unbelievable feeling, I’ll be honest.”

Overall, Span batted .371 during the streak with 46 hits, including five doubles, two triples, and two home runs.

The streak helped boost Span’s season batting average by more than 20 points, from .258 the day the streak started to .282 entering tonight’s contest — no mean feat.

“It is tough, it is tough. You know, a lot of the games, I was going 3-4, and only seeing my average go up 3 points,” said Span.

“But you know what, I’m still thankful that I was able to do something like this, and I guess kinda, you could say jump-start my season, even all the way in August, September.”

Span fell two games short of Vladimir Guerrero’s franchise record 31-game hitting streak, but he and his teammates still have work to do, as they remained five games back in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Though the centerfielder was understandably disappointed after the game, he did admit to feeling a measure of relief at no longer needing to keep the streak going.

“A little bit, a little bit, I’ll be honest,” he said. “I wanted to keep it going, but yeah, I’m not sure I’ll sleep tonight.”

“But it’s like I said, it’s a sigh of relief, because I can turn the page, try and finish the season strong, and hopefully we can get into the postseason.”

Span will likely be at the forefront of any charge towards the playoffs that Washington is able to muster — and not just because he hits atop the lineup.

“He’s just a all-around great player, a leader, role model, the whole works,” said Gonzalez.

“He’s Spantastic.”

  1. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    At a time when no one in the lineup was hitting w/ power, Span’s production was disappointing. Now that several players are hitting well and with pop, I’m converted and happy he’s here. I suppose there’s a chicken or egg question to be answered here but the current lineup is working well together and would be plenty satisfactory going into next season

  2. Section 222 - Sep 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    With Span’s resurgence, there’s really only one starter who hasn’t delivered this year — ALR. Oh, and the 2B position, and the C position, to some extent. Plus, Harper wasn’t as awesome as we hoped, but he still had a pretty good year. What happens at 1B ffor next year is one of the questions for Rizzo over the off season, though there aren’t a lot of alternatives.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      C position? That’s like saying LF position has not delievered either. Injuries happen. Ramos has delivered when he is on the field. I am eager to do an in-depth look at each position already but I am waiting for Nats to make me look like a fool regarding playoff hopes.

      • Section 222 - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        That’s kind of what I meant by “to some extent”. But by saying that C and 2B haven’t delivered I’m basically saying that the Nats need to think hard about who they have there. At a minimum, we need a better backup for next year for Ramos than Solano. I’m happy with Rendon at 2B, and I think all of the other starting positions players, other than 1B, are unlikely to be improved on except at a too high cost. ALR is the real tough decision for Rizzo.

  3. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Reposting, this time in English:

    IFF the Nats win out, they finish at 91-71, and are a lock , mathematically, to catch one of Pittsburgh or Cincinnati and/or St. Louis.

    IF Nats win out = 91-71.

    “No better than” assumes the Pirates and Reds sweep their other series with the Cubs and Mets, respectively.

    If the Nats win out, which would include beating St. Louis, the Cardinals cannot exceed 95-67. Assume the Cardinals do that, since if they lose any more, it only helps the Nats in these scenarios.

    IF Pitts. wins out, they’ll finish 97-65, in first place in the NLC, St. Lous (95-67) would be WC1; Nats (91-71) are WC2; and the Reds can do no better than 90-72, out of the playoffs.

    IF Cin. wins out, they’ll finish 96-66, in first place; St. Louis would be WC1; and Pitts. can do no better than 91-71, tied with the Nats for WC2. They would have a one-game playoff for the 2nd WC spot, winner playing St. Louis.

    IF Cin. and Pitts. split their six games against one another, St. Louis wins the NLC.; Pitts. can finish no better than 91-71, which would tie the Nats for the 1st WC (I’m pretty sure they use a tiebreaker for this, but I’m not sure who would win it); and Cin. can finish no better than 90-72, out of the playoffs.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Wait, that’s still wrong.

      Nevermind.

      Sigh.

      No more caffeine for me.

      • Jw - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Just look at the elimination number. It’s 5 vs the Reds, 4 vs the Bucs. If the Nats win out but the Reds go 5-4 or better AND the Bucs go 4-5 or better, the Nats are eliminated. About the only way that won’t happen is if either the Reds or the Bucs totally dominate their 6 remaining games with each other. Which is what everyone has been saying for a while now.

  4. natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    lol. Personally, I need more caffeine and less math.

  5. NatsLady - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    If the Nats win out, they will have a record of 91 wins.
    - If Atlanta wins one more game (of their next 10), they will have 91 wins. Can they lose ten straight? Won’t be easy. They end out their season with the Cubs, Brewers and Phillies.
    - If St. Louis wins two more games (of their next nine), they will have 91 wins. Can they go 1-8? The Nats could help, of couse, since we have three remaining games against them. Their remaining games are Brewers, Nats, Cubs.
    - If Pittsburgh wins three more games (of their next nine), they will have 91 wins. Can they go 2-7? They have the Cubs (3) and the Reds (6).
    - If Cincinnati wins four more games (of their next nine), they will have 91 wins. Can they go 3-6? They have the Mets (3) and the Pirates 6).

    • tcostant - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      I think you have to count on the Nats lossing at least one game, winning out is just to remote in theis game if inches baseball. So take one more win away and say can the Reds go 2-7 and so on. Not impossible, just very unlikely.

      • NatsLady - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        I understand. This just shows how challenging it is even if the Nats go 9-0.

        However, in a nine game stretch, teams go 3-6 a lot of times (especially with six against the Pirates), so if the Nats go 8-1, that would be a tie with Cincy.

        Basically, you hope that the Mets take a game from Cincy, maybe two. Now, that’s not an unreasonable hope, as David Wright is back in. If he is healthy, he will have “fresh legs.” Here are the pitching matches.

        Mon: Wheeler vs Cueto – probably Wheeler’s last start. He doesn’t have to hold anything back. Cueto, who knows. Obviously, Cincy’s Ace if he is healthy, but is he? And is he still on a pitch count?
        Tues: Harang vs Leake – odds are this one goes to Cincy
        Wed: Niese vs Reynolds – odds are this one goes to NY

        As for this weekend,
        Fri: Latos vs Liriano – probably the two best pitchers on both teams. Tossup.
        Sat: Bailey vs Burnett – Not a “tossup,” but very difficult to predict. Both pitchers are excellent IF they are on their game, but both are entirely capable of getting soaked.
        Sun: Arroyo vs Locke – Locke was great early on, major problems mid-season, now seems to be back to form.

        I could see Cincy losing 2 of 3 to the Mets. Now, can they lose 4 of 6 or 5 of 6 to Pitt? Well, McCutch is on FIRE, and Cincy doesn’t have anyone who could be described that way right now.

        Every series of these final three is like a playoff series–already. Can’t afford any bullpen meltdowns or stupid managing. FWIW, Vegas gives Pitt a slight edge in tonight’s game (ranging from -130 to -110).

        One observation–if the Nats make it to the tie game or the WC game, the other teams will be just as tired as we will be. If Cincy does lose 2 of 3 over the weekend, or get swept, then Pitt will be fighting for the Division, and Cincy will be desperate to beat the Mets–if we are only 2 or 3 games back.

      • jd - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        As I said 1.5%.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        I think we’ve demonstrated pretty conclusively that I can’t count, period.

      • tcostant - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        4Pm has passed and I passed on my post season strip, so I’m not feeling it. I would love to be proven wrong!

  6. tcostant - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    The streak was so much fun, that Rizzo picked up another Spann

  7. natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Eh, small sample size. :-)

    Sec 3, My Sofa – Sep 20, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    I think we’ve demonstrated pretty conclusively that I can’t count, period.

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