Beat the Streak leader within 5 of tying all-time mark

Beat the Streak leader within 5 of tying all-time mark

The top Beat the Streak players are inching ever-closer to the grand prize. User "csteele12" improved to a 44-game streak on Sunday night with a hit by the Astros' George Springer, while fellow player "jmd4221" stayed close behind, at 42 games, thanks to the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt.

On Sunday, both players' streaks went through the Southwest. Springer preserved the streak for "csteele12," the current overall leader, with a fifth-inning single against the Orioles following an 0-for-2 start to the game. For "jmd4221," Goldschmidt singled in his second at-bat against the Padres to keep the streak alive. ("jmd4221" also attempted to double down with a second D-backs palyer, Jean Segura, but Segura did not play -- and therefore did not affect the streak, as he did not record an official at-bat.)

The successful pick of Springer means that "csteele12," whose actual identity remains unknown, is now just five games shy of tying Mike Karatzia and Terry Sims' all-time Beat the Streak run of 49. Sims tied the mark earlier this year. The BTS leader is also within 13 successful picks of topping Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio's mythical 56-game hitting streak in 1941 and claiming the $5.6 million grand prize.

The Astros have the Major Leagues' leading hitter, Jose Altuve, but "csteele12" instead opted for Springer, who entered Sunday with seven hits over his previous two games. It took a few at-bats, but that decision paid off.

Play BTS, win $5.6 million

Meanwhile, "jmd4221" kept pace, after opting to sit out of Saturday's action. With the successful pick of Goldschmidt, "jmd4221" remains just two games back on the Beat the Streak leaderboard.

In Beat the Streak, participants establish virtual "hitting streaks" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with participants' runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit. To claim the lifetime's worth of fame and fortune, a Streaker must best DiMaggio's magic hitting-streak total of 56 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. The "Mulligan" is a one-time streak savior that can be used early on, specifically on streaks that are 10-15 picks long.

On Sunday, although Segura did not end up playing, "jmd4221" was employing the "Double Down" feature, which gives users the option to select two players on the same day. If both picks get a hit, the streak advances by two. If either goes hitless, the streak ends.

BTS players also have access to research filters within the app. Information 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 about more than just extending the streak. Yet another contest within the contest -- Bizarro Beat the Streak -- is open now through 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

To win, players pick nine batters they think will go hitless Tuesday night. If they combine to go 0-fer with a minimum of 27 at-bats, that's a Bizarro Beat the Streak no-hitter, which awards a prize of $2,500 (see official rules for full details).

There's also MLB.com's new BTS challenge -- the ".406 contest," where 0-fer 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 July 20 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.

Additionally, 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.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.