Aug. 15, 2006
By Michael Walsh / MLB.com
WASHINGTON — Before he became such a sure thing over the last two games, Atlanta left-fielder Matt Diaz knew a little something about hitting streaks. Diaz was the owner of a 22-game tear when he was in the Minors, something that he told current Major Leaguer Aubrey Huff about when Huff asked about Diaz’s baseball achievements.
But Diaz probably didn’t get the reaction he was thinking he was going to get from Huff.
“When I first got called up to the big leagues in Tampa, Aubrey Huff asked me about my Minor League numbers,” said Diaz, retelling the story. “I was telling him and he let me go through every single one of them and then at the end he said, ‘You know what, none of that matters now.’ This one’s a lot more fun.”
Well, this one matters a little more, too. Diaz’s 10 hits in 10 consecutive at-bats set a new Braves record and tied the mark for the feat in the National League, most recently done by Bip Roberts. Diaz said the streak wasn’t something he had on his mind when the Braves made the trip to the nation’s capital.
“It’s not something you prepare for,” Diaz said. “You don’t expect to come into a game after having a good day and have four hits in a row again. It’s not something you even think about. But it was fun as it unfolded, especially in a game like tonight where we were winning and we could enjoy it a little bit.”
Diaz said that having manager Bobby Cox’s confidence behind him was a big reason for his recent good fortune at the plate.
“I feel good, it’s easy building confidence when the skipper has confidence in you,” Diaz said. “Bobby’s giving me a shot to hit right now, giving me a shot to hit righties and lefties and that’s a lot of fun. I know he’s got confidence in me and I’ve not no reason not to have it myself.”
“He’s been hitting .340 for most of the year,” Cox said. “So he deserves to be in there a little more.”
Chipper Jones, who had himself a whale of a Monday as well, said that hitting the ball well is nothing new to Diaz, but reveled in the difficulty of the streak.
“You think about 10 hits in a row,” Jones said. “That’s two and a half games of doing nothing but hitting and that’s pretty impressive in its own right.”
Jones had three home runs on Monday and made his presence felt in a big way, while Diaz’s path to the record book was a little more understated. The left-fielder did homer in his first at-bat, but then scraped together the final three hits with two cue-shots and one broken-bat hit before the streak ended with a ground out to shortstop Felipe Lopez in the ninth.
Diaz said the ball wasn’t exactly looking like a beach ball to him at the plate.
“That’s what people are asking,” he said “The first at-bat it did, and then I had two dinkers and a broken-bat hit.”
What about the broken bat, any remorse for losing something that helped you reach a record?
“The bat died a hero, as they say,” Diaz said.
Michael Walsh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.