Denard Span struck out in his seventh-inning at-bat against Miami right-hander A.J. Ramos on Thursday night, leaving him 0-for-4 in the series finale with the Marlins. Span was three spots away from another at-bat when Wilson Ramos lined out to end the bottom of the eighth. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless top of the ninth for the Nationals to earn his 42nd save in the Nats’ 82nd win of the year, so Span never got another at-bat and his 29-game hit streak came to an end.
Over the course of the longest hit streak in the majors this season, the Nationals’ 29-year-old center fielder was 46-for-128 with five doubles, two triples, two home runs and seven stolen bases. Span, who started the streak Aug. 17, went from a .258/.310/.353 line in his 114th game to .281/.329/.380 when the streak ended after his 145th and the Nationals’ 153rd game of the season.
“He’s been great,” Davey Johnson told reporters last week. “He’s had a hitting streak, but his on-base percentage is off the charts.”
Johnson said last night he’d hoped Span, who was 4-for-7 versus Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez coming into the game, would be able to get to 30 games, which would have tied Ryan Zimmerman for the fourth-longest hit streak in D.C. baseball history.
“I was a little worried about it,” Johnson said, “because he’s hit this guy well in the past. He got some hits through the series that he hadn’t [gotten] a hit off guys and this guy, I think he had about three hits or something, three or four hits. But he’ll start another one.”
If Span started one tomorrow he’d be nine games in when the 2013 campaign ends. Gene DeMontreville, holder of the longest hit streak in D.C. baseball history and the 10th-longest in baseball history, was 17 games into what ended being a 36-game hit streak when the 1896 season ended with the 23-year-old DeMontreville at .343/.381/.452 with 27 walks, eight triples, three home runs, 29 walks and 27 strikeouts in 133 games and 581 plate appearances for the Washington Senators. His hit streak ended 19 games into the 1897 season.
Twenty-seven years later, Sam Rice made a run at the longest hit streak in D.C. baseball history when he put together a 31-game streak that lasted from Aug. 23 to Sept. 24.
Over the course of his streak, the -34-year-old Rice had a .390/.435/.485 line with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 walks and four strikeouts in 152 plate appearances. Rice’s streak ended with an 0-for-4 performance against Red Sox right-hander Alexander Ferguson in Fenway Park. “Alexander Ferguson did not allow Rice a hit, stopping Sam after he had rapped out at least one safety in his last 31 games,” Washington Post writer Frank H. Young wrote in his report on the Senators’ 153rd game of a 1924 campaign which would see them go on to win the one and only World Series in D.C. baseball history.
Washington returned to the Series in 1925 and lost, and the nation’s capital suffered through an eight-year dry spell after that second straight postseason appearance. In 1933, though, the Senators returned to the World Series led by General Crowder and Earl Whitehill on the mound and a then 31-year-old outfielder named Heinie Manush and his .336/.372/.459 line.
In his fourth season in D.C. after he arrived along with Crowder in a 1930 trade with the Browns that sent Goose Goslin to St. Louis, Manush started a hit streak on July 22 that lasted until Aug. 26, when he went 0-for-5 in a 5-4 loss on the road in Cleveland. Manush went 50-for-152 over the course of his hit streak, posting a .362/.413/.486 line with three doubles, four triples and two home runs in 33 games. It would be 76 years before another player based in the nation’s capital would get to 20 straight games with hits.
Between April 8 and May 13, 2009, Ryan Zimmerman put together a 30-game hit streak, over which the then-24-year-old third baseman was 50-for-131, .382/.427/.649, with 11 doubles and eight home runs in 143 plate appearances. Zimmerman’s hit streak ended with an 0-for-3 game against the Giants in San Francisco’s AT&T Park. In spite of the fact that he was on the road, Zimmerman received a standing ovation once his streak came to an end.
“They know baseball, they love baseball,” Zimmerman told MLB.com at the time. “It was special. Anytime you can get people telling you good luck and people cheering you on the road, it means something.”
Span fell one game short of Zimmerman’s mark. The fans in Nationals Park last night showed their appreciation when Span’s run ended and gave him a standing ovation when he struck out in his final at-bat to end his run with the fifth-longest hit streak D.C. baseball history.
Patrick Reddington blogs about the Nationals for href="http://www.federalbaseball.com/"target="_new">Federal Baseball and appears here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.