Bartlett sets Rays record as streak hits 19
Fifth-inning single earns standing ovation from Tampa crowd
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jason Bartlett continues to try and ignore the hitting streak he's currently riding. But the fans at Tropicana Field aren't letting him.
Bartlett set a new club record by extending his hit streak to 19 games in Thursday night's 10-4 victory over the Phillies with a single in the fifth inning that drew a momentary ovation from the home crowd.
The hit broke the Rays' previous record of 18 games, set by Quinton McCracken in 1998.
"I'm happy about it, but I'd rather not think about it," Bartlett said. "It's not that I'm putting pressure on myself, but it's in my head and I'd rather it not be."
It's now the longest active streak in the Major Leagues, after the Cubs' Derrek Lee went hitless Thursday against the Tigers to curtail his hit streak at 21 games.
"It's not surprising really, because he's hitting ground balls and line drives that have a tendency to find openings," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's a good approach to the plate. He's doing a great job."
Bartlett is hitting .384 with 21 RBIs over the stretch, which began on May 15 and was interrupted by his 19-game stay on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle.
But he has returned from the ankle injury without a hitch, continuing a career-best pace that puts him among baseball's top hitting shortstops this season. He's currently second among American League shortstops in All-Star Game voting, trailing New York's Derek Jeter. And if he had enough at-bats to qualify, he'd be leading the Majors in average and hitting with runners in scoring position.
He also ranks second among all shortstops in stolen bases (14) and RBIs (35).
Bartlett has tried hard not to focus on the one statistic that is getting him the most attention recently, though. He admitted the game ball was saved and tossed into the dugout after his fifth-inning single, but he shrugged his shoulders at the keepsake for now.
"I don't plan on stopping," Bartlett said.
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.