Beat the Streak leader just 3 short of tying all-time high

Beat the Streak leader just 3 short of tying all-time high

Graham Manning suddenly stands on the brink of making Beat the Streak history, thanks to two successful picks on Saturday.

Manning, who goes by the username "manning.gpm," took advantage of the game's "Double Down" feature for the third straight day and picked the Cubs' Kris Bryant and the Pirates' Starling Marte. Both players collected hits Saturday, extending Manning's streak to 46 games -- just three shy of the record 49-game streak set initially in 2007 (Mike Karatzia) and tied earlier this year (Terry Sims) and 11 away from the $5.6 million grand prize.

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The Cubs were first on the docket Saturday, and Chicago's entire lineup made Manning sweat a little bit after they were held hitless through six innings by Seattle's Wade Miley. In the seventh, the Cubs' Dexter Fowler drew a walk, and Bryant followed with a single to both break up Miley's no-hitter and keep Manning's streak alive.

Marte took care of business early, doubling in the second inning of Pittsburgh's Saturday night contest in Milwaukee. Entering Saturday, the Pirates outfielder was 3-for-7 lifetime against Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson with a double and a home run.

Should Manning fall short in his quest for BTS history, another challenger has risen to potentially take his place. User "dtra1203," whose real name remains unknown, also picked Marte on Saturday and saw his streak extended to 41.

In Beat the Streak, participants establish virtual "hitting streaks" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit in their contests. To claim the lifetime's worth of fame and fortune, a Streaker must top Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio's magical hitting-streak total of 56, set in 1941, by one. In nearly 16 years of BTS play, nobody has "bested" Joe D.

It's now easier than ever for players to chase down DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Users now have the option of employing the "Double Down" feature, as Manning did on Saturday, to advance their streaks two games at a time.

Additionally, BTS research filters such as batting-order position, right- or left-handed pitchers and cold opposing pitchers are at fans' disposal. BTS players can also take days off between selections if they don't find ideal matchups.

Of course, the game is now about more than just extending the streak. There's also MLB.com's new BTS challenge -- the ".406 contest," where 0-for nights are OK. This secondary competition is an ode to Ted Williams' incredible .406 batting average in 1941.

If a player's BTS picks "hit" .406 or better from now through the season's end (with a minimum of 250 plate appearances), he or she will be eligible to win four tickets to six regular-season games in 2017.

Also, whenever a season goes by without someone claiming the $5.6 million grand prize, a $10,000 consolation prize is awarded to those atop the calendar year's leaderboard. On top of that, the BTS game-makers hand out millions of other prizes for streaks as small as five.

It would be especially fitting if a BTS user broke the BTS drought this year. After all, it's the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's remarkable streak, which was commemorated with daily recaps on MLB.com and @TheStreak on Twitter.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.