Merrifield still making history

Published 11:26 am Thursday, July 7, 2016

Whit Merrifield making history has become ho-hum stuff.

• On June 27, the Kansas City rookie from Advance became the first major-league player to get a hit in at least 30 of his first 34 career games since 2001, when Ichiro Suzuki hit safely in 32 of his first 34 games.

• Merrifield recorded the third-longest home hitting streak to begin a career. His home streak ended at 18 games on June 28. The only two longer streaks since 1913 belong to Rocco Baldelli (20 in 2003) and Albert Pujols (19 in 2001).

When the Royals played at St. Louis on June 29, Merrifield was supposed to have a day off to recharge his batteries. Instead, he emerged from the shadows in the eighth inning and came up big – on multiple occasions – in the Royals’ eventual 3-2, 12-inning win.

In the top of the eighth, he got his first career hit in a pinch-hit role, poking a two-strike pitch to right to load the bases in a 0-0 contest. The next batter, Alcides Escobar, plated Merrifield with a sac fly.

The Cardinals rallied to tie at 1-1 with a two-out hit in the bottom of the ninth. In the 10th, Merrifield batted with runners at the corners and one out. His grounder up the middle was errored by the second baseman, giving KC a 2-1 lead. The Cards rallied again, tying the game at 2-2 with a homer in the last of the 10th.

In the 12th, Merrifield led off with a hustle double to right-center. He scored on an Escobar double, and KC held on 3-2 in a game that lasted four hours, 34 minutes.

On the six-year anniversary of his 11th-inning, walk-off hit in the 2010 College World Series for South Carolina, Merrifield went 2 for 3 with a double, RBI and run scored.