MIAMI — With a blank stare on his face, Luis Castillo stood in the on-deck circle and watched his teammates celebrate a fifth consecutive victory Saturday night.
Castillo was obviously disappointed with the end of his 35-game hitting streak, the 10th-longest in baseball history. But it was the winning streak that mattered most to the Florida Marlins--and Castillo eventually agreed.
Castillo went 0 for 4 and was left on deck when the Marlins finished off a four-run rally in the ninth inning to defeat the Detroit Tigers, 5-4.
"I tried everything I could and I didn't do it," Castillo said. "A lot of people wanted me to have one more chance."
After Tim Raines' one-out, game-ending sacrifice fly, Castillo slowly pulled off his batting helmet as his teammates swarmed Raines and Andy Fox, who scored the winning run. Manager Jeff Torborg went straight to Castillo, put his arms around the switch-hitting Dominican and whispered into his ear.
"That's between him and me," Torborg said. "He's just a great kid that accomplished something special."
Castillo's streak was the longest since Paul Molitor hit safely in 39 in a row in 1987.
Raines could have guaranteed Castillo a fifth plate appearance by not swinging the bat. He even asked Torborg what he should do and the manager told him to win the game.
Castillo flied out in the first inning, struck out swinging in the third, grounded into a fielder's choice in the fifth and grounded out in the eighth. His first three at-bats were against left-hander Mark Redman. His last was against right-hander Jose Paniagua.
Hustling down the first-base line, Castillo made his final out a close play. He received a standing ovation before each at-bat, then a much longer one after his eighth-inning out.
Chants of "Louie, Louie" spread across the stadium, and he popped out of the dugout for a curtain call. He pumped his right hand high above his head as the cheering continued.
"I tried to keep going....I don't feel very good right now," Castillo said. "I tried to do what I could for the fans. It's over."
Castillo's streak is the longest by a Latin player and the longest by a second baseman.
It tied Ty Cobb (1917) and Fred Clarke (1895) for the 10th longest of all-time. George Sisler also had a 35-game hitting streak, but it spanned two seasons (1924-25).
Only nine players have had a longer streak, including only two since 1950--Pete Rose (44) in 1978 and Molitor. Joe DiMaggio set the record of 56 games in 1941.
Trailing, 4-1, with one out in the ninth, Charles Johnson hit a two-run double.
Pinch-runner Homer Bush scored on an error to tie the score. With Fox on second, the Marlins sent Raines to pinch-hit.
Fox moved to third on Juan Acevedo's wild pitch. Raines then lifted a 2-and-2 pitch into center field. Fox tagged and easily beat Wendell Magee's throw.
Castillo was initially disheartened, but later agreed that winning was more important than extending the streak.
"If it has to be like that, I feel fine," he said. "If it's over, it's over."
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*--* Streakers Luis Castillo's hitting streak ended Saturday at 35 games. A look at the longest consecutive-game hitting streaks in baseball history: Player, Team (League) Year No Joe DiMaggio, New York (A) 1941 56 Willie Keeler, Baltimore (N) 1897 44 Pete Rose, Cincinnati (N) 1978 44 Bill Dahlen, Chicago (N) 1894 42 George Sisler, St. Louis (A) 1922 41 Ty Cobb, Detroit (A) 1911 40 Paul Molitor, Milwaukee (A) 1987 39 Tommy Holmes, Boston (N) 1945 37 Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia (N) 1894 36 Fred Clarke, Louisville (N) 1895 35 Ty Cobb, Detroit (A) 1917 35 Luis Castillo, Florida (N) 2002 35