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Rodriguez extends hit streak to 23
Binghamton third baseman keeps his run alive in final at-bat
06/13/2013 12:33 AM ET
Binghamton's Josh Rodriguez began his 23-game hitting streak on May 23.
Binghamton's Josh Rodriguez began his 23-game hitting streak on May 23. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Josh Rodriguez admitted to be anxious for most of Wednesday. His hitting streak was a game away from tying the Minors' best mark this season, and things suddenly felt a little more real.

"Everyone on our team knows about it, I've been talking about it, making fun of it, but at this point right now, I'm starting to think about it more," said Rodriguez. "I don't think I've had a streak this long, and up until today's game, it's hasn't bothered me during at-bats."

He began Wednesday's game at Trenton 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. The pressure was on in the eighth, when he singled in his final at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 23 games in Double-A Binghamton's 6-1 win over the Thunder.

"Pretty much at that point, knowing it's your last at-bat, it's in the back of your mind. I'm thinking, 'I need to get something in play and give myself a chance,'" Rodriguez said.

In the eighth, the third baseman -- batting .320 this year -- grounded a single to right off Thunder reliever Francisco Rondon to extend his streak, the longest in the Eastern League since 2006. He finished 1-for-4 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts.

"It was hit pretty well, the second baseman [Jose Pirela] was playing up the middle. It wasn't a cheap one," he said. "I knew it was going to get through easily. I was pretty relieved going up the first-base line."

His career-best streak tied Triple-A Reno's Chris Owings for the longest in the Minors this season. Rodriguez began his run May 13 and is batting .423 with a homer and 17 RBIs during the stretch.

Owings' streak stood from May 11-June 4, a stretch in which the D-backs' No. 6 prospect hit .353 with two homers and nine RBIs for the Aces.

With four homers, 28 RBIs and a .441 on-base percentage in 58 games, Rodriguez has authored a few memorable nights during the streak so far, including five three-hit efforts. He recorded six hits from May 21-22 and raised his average to as high as .442 on May 30 after going 3-for-5 against Altoona.

"I knew I had a decent streak going back when it was eight or nine games, especially after I wasn't hitting the ball well for a week or so toward the end of April," he said. "I started feeling a little better going into May and ever since then, I've just been like, just another day, make sure I'm not thinking about it. I'm making fun of it sometimes, 'I gotta get a hit, get one today.' That's been my whole thing, making it known, that way it's not in the back of my mind."

Rodriguez walked and scored on Allan Dykstra's two-run single in the first before popping up in the second and striking swinging with the bases loaded to end the third. He struck out again with a runner on third to end the fifth.

The veteran infielder said the biggest factor in the run has been capitalizing on mistakes by pitchers. He's being selective and gaining confidence, but as the games pile up, so does the pressure to keep it going.

"I was kind of anxious all day," he said. "I don't want to force the issue instead of just doing what I've been doing."

The Houston native's B-Mets also have been streaking, with Wednesday marking their sixth straight win and the club's longest winning streak since 2011. Binghamton (40-25) also became the first Eastern League team to reach 40 wins this year.

Rodriguez, 28, has bounced around the Minors since the Indians made him their second-round pick in the 2006 Draft. He's spent parts of the past three seasons at Triple-A and reached the Majors in 2011, collecting a dozen at-bats for Pittsburgh.

After declining to sign with Oakland after the 2003 Draft, Rodriguez began his career with the Tribe in 2006, but was selected by the Pirates in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft. After making his big league debut in 2011, he was returned to Cleveland on April 29, 2011, but later had his contract purchased by Pittsburgh in June. He signed with the Mets in 2012 and split last season between Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .276 with 13 homers, 61 RBIs and a .348 on-base percentage.

Now he's the veteran on a Double-A team. He's embraced that role.

"It's been fun, this is a very young club. We kind of make jokes that I'm the old guy, everyone seems like they're 23-24. These guys come out and have fun and play hard and joke around, so it's baseball," he said. "They get that aspect, it's just a game. Not too serious, everyone is pretty close. It shows in our play. We started off up and down but as it's warmed up, these kids have shown their ability."

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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