PHILADELPHIA — Streaks are fun to follow; the longer one continues, the higher the anticipation. Such was the case with the Phillies Odubel Herrera’s on-base streak. Heading into Sunday’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, Herrera had reached base 45-consecutive games dating back to September of last season. He went 0-for-3 on Sunday with two strikeouts when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning, hoping to keep his streak intact.
Reliever Jordan Hicks was on the mound, and the Cardinals were winning 5-1. Hicks had Herrera down 1-2 in the count when he fouled a ball off. The very next pitch he struck out swinging, but it was a wild pitch. Despite reaching first base safely, Herrera’s streak was over because the strikeout took place before he got on base.
"At some point, the streak had to end,” Herrera said. “Now I'm looking forward to starting a new streak."
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Herrera’s teammates admire his tenacity at the plate.
“He’s pretty special,” pitcher Aaron Nola told Matt Breen of philly.com. “His hands are so great. It’s pretty fun to watch him at the plate. When you’re watching him and he’s out front, his hands are still back, so he can hit velocity and also foul off slow pitches. For me, that’s a thing that’s pretty special to watch. He can foul balls off when he needs to and then he puts a really good swing on the next pitch. He’s a special player.”
Herrera remains in excellent company with his 45-game on-base streak. The streak is fourth longest all-time in franchise history behind Mike Schmidt (56), Chuck Klein (49), and Bobby Abreu (48).
"What an incredible accomplishment," Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler said. "I was looking at the list before the game of guys who have reached base somewhere in that many games, and wow there are some Hall of Famers, some perennial All-Stars on that list, so he's in good company."
From an MLB perspective, the longest on-base streak belongs to Ted Williams at 84 games set in 1949.
Herrera hit .355 during his streak, and for this season he is batting a career-best .348, which currently leads the National League. The Phillies are currently entrenched in a big series considering it's only May as they are hosting the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves at Citizen’s Bank Park. While the Phillies dropped the first three series played against the Braves this season, they were only a half-game out of first after a Nick Pivetta gem on Monday night in a 3-0 Phillies win.
“There is a lot of adrenaline going into that series,” Kapler said. “We feel like we match up very well against them, and, more than anything else, we’re not going to get outworked or prepared.”
The Braves came to town with the second-best team batting average in Major League Baseball and the third most runs scored. Comparatively, the Phillies team batting average (.238) ranked 19th and their 206 runs, 12th. In the nine games the two teams had squared off, the Braves had won six and scored 54 runs to the Phillies 30. The Braves also had the top road winning percentage in the National League, having won 17 of their 25 games away from Sun Trust Park.
That all goes out the window this week in Citizen's Bank Park though as the Phillies are looking to stake their claim as top dogs in the division.