ABERDEEN, Md. -- Thanks to an 18 game hit streak, short stop Jared Breen's name will be in the IronBirds record book.
Breen's streak was the longest in the 11-year history of the franchise and almost certainly one of the quirkiest streaks of its kind.
The streak, in reality, began on June 26th during a home contest against the Brooklyn Cyclones, a game in which he picked up two hits. He picked up a hit in the next 16 games that ensued, with the streak ending on July 17th on the road against the Vermont Lake Monsters. At that point, he was tied with Brandon Fahey who put together a 17-game hit streak in 2005, which coincidentally ended on July 17th.
But Breen's streak was not completely over at that point. On June 25th, the day before the streak originally began, the IronBirds' game in Staten Island with the Yankees was suspended in the bottom of the 5th due to a power outage at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Up until that point in the game, Breen was held hitless. But play resumed on July 28th, when Aberdeen returned to Staten Island, and Breen picked up two hits, extending his hit streak to 18 games.
To add to the quirkiness, since the game was a makeup for the 25th of June, it technically is considered the start of Breen's hit streak even though he picked up the hits 9 days after the streak ended.
"It was funny because me and [Public Relations Director and Radio Broadcaster] Paul Taylor were talking about it afterwards," Breen said about the hit that technically started the streak. "It was funny how all of that play out."
"I think it's a great accomplishment for him," manager Matt Merullo said. "It's really fun for him and it's something positive that gives everybody around the IronBirds something to talk about."
For Breen, he is proud of the accomplishment. "I've never set any records or done anything special where my name gets put in a book. It's been fun," Breen said. "It's a cool experience to know that I accomplished something that nobody else has done, at least in this franchise."
Breen explained in detail what goes through his mind when he takes an at-bat. "I just keep it simple when I'm at the plate. I've got four things that go through my mind. That's to walk up to the plate with confidence, attack the inside of the baseball, have an attainable goal to go up and hit the ball hard and help the team win no matter how that may be in every at-bat."
He felt little pressure to keep the streak going until the latter stages when fans began to recognize what he was in the midst of accomplishing. "The last couple games when I knew how close I was it was definitely on my mind going up to the plate. Especially in the game that tied [the record] when we were [home]," Breen admitted. "As much as I was trying not to think about it, that just seemed to make it worse. It was interesting because the fans knew what was going on and it seemed like every time I stepped in the on-deck circle I had fans behind me yelling 'just get the hit right here!'"
Although Breen is proud of the record, he is quick to point out that the team's success is what he's more concerned with. " It's a good feeling but at the end of the day it's not really about me. It's about what I can do for the team."
"It's a big part of us being where we are." Merullo said in reference to the team's success so far this season. Aberdeen went 13-5 during the streak, making up for a 2-6 start. As of August 10th, the IronBirds (26-22) sit atop the McNamara division, in position to make a run at a playoff berth for the first time in franchise history.
Since the streak ended, his average has dipped below .200. Breen isn't hiding from that and is working hard to get back on track with hitting coach Scott Beerer. "It's not that my swing is bad but there are always things that you can improve."
Despite Breen's recent struggles at the plate, the IronBirds continue to pick up wins and games in the standings. He is confident that he will get hot again and make an impact on the playoff race. " I think for me, at this point in the season, we're kind of coming down that home stretch. I think it's just about being relaxed and getting back to playing the game fast, aggressive and fun. I think if I can get back to just doing that, take some pressure off myself and not worry about results but worry about how to get to those results. I think that's when it'll start clicking again."