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Merrifield’s amazing hitting streak ends

Demonstrating outrageous consistency, Whit Merrifield of Advance went 135 straight games without having back-to-back hitless games. The streak ended when he went 0 for 4 on both Aug. 3 and 4. Before that, you had to go back to 2018 to find consecutive games without a hit for the Kansas City star.

It was the second-longest such streak in the American League since 1946. Only Ichiro Suzuki had gone longer when he compiled a string of 180 games from 2008-09.

Merrifield nearly kept his incredible stretch alive with two outs in the ninth on Aug. 4. He hit a blooper to right field, and Minnesota’s Jake Cave made a diving catch.

Merrifield said: “I didn’t think about it until recently when you guys brought it up. I didn’t even know people kept streaks like that. Looking back on it now, it sort of reflects the good stretch of consistency I’ve had. That’s what I strive for. Makes me feel good with what I’ve done.”

And then: “Baseball is just funny. You’ve got to have some luck to go on runs like this, like that extra-inning game we had at home. Balls fall in sometimes. It’s just funny that it comes to an end when I’m feeling this good. I smoked the first one – they say it all evens out – so I thought right away the blooper would fall in.”

As of Aug. 3, Merrifield had the second-most hits in the majors (141), behind Rafael Devers’ 144. He had a hit in 80 percent of his games this season (90 of 113). In 2018 he led the majors in hits (192).

Kansas City manager Ned Yost said: “He’s really swinging the bat. He’s just been such a consistent force, and that streak just shows you how consistent he is. Just a model of consistency at the Major League level. It’s been amazing to watch.”

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Merrifield achieved another cool feat last week. He is the 26th position player in Royals history to play the first 500 games of his Major League career for Kansas City. With 596 hits, he has the most hits through 500 games in Kansas City history.

The 2-5 spots belong to George Brett (588), Kevin Seitzer (577), Carlos Beltran (570) and Billy Butler (546).

Merrifield’s 194 extra-base hits are tied with Beltran for the most by a Royal through 500 career games. Merrifield also ranks among the franchise leaders in doubles (second), runs (fourth) and stolen bases (fifth) through 500 career games.

Merrifield has recorded at least one hit in 381 of his first 500 games (76 percent) – third most among active players, trailing only Suzuki and Albert Pujols, who hit in 404 and 385 of their first 500 games, respectively.

Merrifield’s 596 hits through 500 games are fifth most among active American League players, trailing only Suzuki (697), Dustin Pedroia (602), Mookie Betts (601) and Jacoby Ellsbury (599).