Aug 4, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Cole Hamels wasn’t giving up much of anything on Sunday when Denard Span found space between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning.
It pushed the center fielder’s streak of reaching base to 29 games, the longest active streak in the majors. He would later add another single, a walk and two stolen bases in the Nats’ 4-0 win.
Span is now batting .294 with an on-base percentage of .352, two numbers that seem to go up by the game these days. Through 100 games he is enjoying perhaps the best season of his career.
Span explained his current approach after Sunday’s game, and how the pitch he hit off Hamels – a fastball inside – is a good indication of what is working for him right now.
“I looked at the replay, the pitch was way inside, but I was able to stay inside of it and get it to drop through for me,” he said
“That’s good. My approach right now is to stay up the middle no matter who is pitching. Keep my hands inside the ball. For me to be able to keep my hands inside of a pitch that was way inside, it’s definitely a good sign.”
The two stolen bases gave Span his 22nd and 23rd on the year, putting him just three away from the career-high of 26 he set in 2010. He has reached 23 another time before, way back in 2009. This season he is on pace to have 35.
Improving on the basepaths is something Span has been focusing on with first base coach Tony Tarasco all season long.
“It’s something that I’ve worked hard on,” he said. “Tony [Tarasco] has been in my ear since spring training started. Before every game he’s giving me something on that pitcher to get me ready. It’s just been a joy to see my hard work translate onto the field.”
Span is surprising himself a bit, however. Reaching 35 stolen bases would be by far the best season he’s had in that category, and it’s coming in his Age 30 season.
“You know what, this is something that I’ve been working on since the day I got drafted at 18. It’s funny you say that because I probably feel the slowest I’ve ever felt in my career, just as far as getting older,” he said.
Span wondered what his steal total would look like if he had his current knowledge combined with his speed at 18-years-old. It brought a smile to his face.
“I’m not going to say Billy Hamilton numbers or Dee Gordon numbers, but I’ll answer that at the end of the season. We’ll have to see how many I get this year.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
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.
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