Unselfish Bonifacio extends streak to 26 games

Unselfish Bonifacio extends streak to 26 games

Unselfish Bonifacio extends streak to 26 games
WASHINGTON -- Eduardo Perez stopped talking about Emilio Bonifacio and his hitting streak for a moment about an hour and a half before Thursday's game, pointing down a long hallway in the visitors' clubhouse at Nationals Park toward the video room.

"Look at him right now," Perez said as Bonifacio studied film before an RBI single in the sixth inning against Sean Burnett gave him 26 consecutive games with a base hit.

More than anything throughout the streak, the Marlins have praised Bonifacio's approach.

The switch-hitter has 39 hits during the streak, but he also has 17 walks -- compared to 23 through the first 79 games of the season. As his batting average climbed from .259 to .299, Bonifacio's focus remained simply on getting on base, whether it extended his streak or not.

"I've been working the count, and if I get a hit, I get a hit," Bonifacio said. "But if not, that's part of the game, too."

He showed it Thursday, when he went 0-for-2 with a walk in his first three at-bats against starter John Lannan. And he showed it Wednesday, when it took Bonifacio until his final at-bat to extend the streak. He worked the count full that time up, showing a willingness to walk, just like he did in his previous at-bat.

"He could have been very selfish with the count 3-1 or 3-2, swung at anything and said, 'I have to get a hit to extend my streak,'" said manager Jack McKeon. "He was very happy to take the base on balls, and he ended up taking second and scoring. That told me something right there -- he's interested in winning and he's unselfish."

Bonifacio is also finding himself at the plate.

marlins streaks
The longest hitting streaks in Marlins history:
# Player Year
35 Luis Castillo 2002
26 Emilio Bonifacio 2011
25 Kevin Millar 2002
22 Luis Castillo 1999
22 Edgar Renteria 1996

Perez took over as hitting coach June 8 and said he has yet to see Bonifacio hit a ball over an outfielder's head. Now, Bonifacio is not even trying to do that.

"He has to keep it on the ground, and that's the key to success," Perez said. "It's line drives and groundballs. He has something that a lot of other guys with hitting streaks haven't had, which is speed and switch-hitting ability."

Bonifacio uses that speed to get on base -- he has three bunt singles. And once there, he uses it to move into scoring position. Bonifacio stole five bases before the streak, but 19 since.

"He triggers the offense," McKeon said. "He's the catalyst. When he gets on, things happen."

In his second at-bat Thursday, he walked, stole second and scored his 27th run in the past 26 games.

"It's not about the streak, it's about getting on base," Perez said. "To me, a hitting streak is nice, and that's what everyone focuses on, but I like on-base streaks more than anything. Walks count just as much as hits."

Bonifacio now stands alone with the second-longest streak in franchise history, passing Kevin Millar at 25. Luis Castillo ranks first with a 35-game streak in 2002.

"This kid's got an ability combined with his speed and a good idea of what he's doing at the plate that this could go on for a while," Perez said. "It's just a matter of him staying true to himself."

Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.