9/15 Barney extends streak
Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is very much aware of his error-less streak but it isn’t stopping him from going after balls. On Saturday, Barney made two impressive defensive plays and extended his National League single-season record errorless streak to 130 straight games. The old overall NL mark was 123 consecutive error-less games, set by Barney’s former Minor League manager and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, from June 21, 1989, to May 17, 1990. The Major League record single-season errorless streak by a second baseman is 141 games, held by Placido Polanco and set in 2007 with the Tigers. Barney’s streak at second base spans 1,048 1/3 innings since his only 2012 miscue at second base, April 17 in Miami. He remembers that play, which came in the eighth inning.
“It was a routine ground ball that bounced a few times and I just over-thought [Jose] Reyes’ speed and I charged it a little bit and I walked right into an inbetween hop that I couldn’t handle,” Barney said. “If I sit back on it, and catch it at my waist, I throw him out. Guys who have speed do that to you. You know when [Tony] Campana is out there, there is no routine play.”
On Saturday, Barney robbed Pedro Alvarez of a possible base hit in the Pirates’ fifth when he snared the ball, then spun around to throw him out at first. In the sixth, Barney somehow caught Travis Snider’s pop up in shallow right with a runner on and one out, and hurdled sliding right fielder Dave Sappelt to avoid a collision.
“I was worried that he was going to run me over,” Barney said of Sappelt. “You’re all ears and waiting to hear if he says anything, and I didn’t, so I committed to it.”
Dale Sveum’s playing career nearly ended in a freak collision in 1988 with Brewers outfielder Darryl Hamilton. Sveum was going back after a ball on the play. He’s told Barney the story.
“It doesn’t make me feel any better hearing that,” Barney said. “You have to trust your outfielder, and trust that if he’s not going to slide, he’s going to say something.”
Sappelt did exactly what he was supposed to do.
“He thought he had an opportunity to make that catch,” Barney said. “He followed protocol perfectly. If the guy doesn’t say anything, he’s going to go low. Infielders are always taught to go high when they’re going backwards. Luckily for the both of us, he did it the right way, and so did I.”
Barney leads the National League in fielding percentage, and could win his first Gold Glove this year. He’s got plenty of highlights for voters to watch.
“That was as good a defensive game as anybody could play,” Sveum said of Saturday’s game by his second baseman. “That kind of play there [in the sixth], there aren’t a lot of people who throw their life on the line for a ball like that. He said, ‘I’m catching that ball and I don’t care what the collision will be.’
“All year long, he hasn’t been afraid to do anything defensively,” Sveum said. “He’s been fearless all year long.”
— Carrie Muskat