Dan Uggla's(notes) 33-game hitting streak — the longest in Atlanta Braves history and the longest in the majors over the past five seasons — came to a dramatic end during the Chicago Cubs 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon.
I say dramatic because it took one of the finest defensive plays I've seen all season to finally stop it. Here's what happened:
In the fifth inning, Uggla, who at that point was 0 for 1 with a sacrifice fly, hit a pop up into short right field, about 15 feet from the foul line. Off the bat it looked like it should be routine. As the camera angle changed, however, you could see Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin(notes) — who was playing Uggla to pull — likely wasn't going to get there. The ball appeared to be heading for no-man's land.
That's when Darwin Barney(notes) came into the picture running at a full sprint. The Cubs infielder had ranged all of the way from his set position near second base, and was closing on the ball quickly. Still, I was anticipating the baseball dropping, the crowd exploding with joy and, knowing the Cubs, the ball being kicked away into the right field corner as Uggla circled the bases.
That's not what happened. Instead, Barney, never losing stride, made a sensational full-out diving grab and — maybe more impressively — hung on to the baseball as he hit the ground and his momentum carried him even further into right field. Truly a fantastic play under any circumstance, but especially so with Uggla's hitting streak on the line.
"I wasn't even looking at him," said Uggla of Barney. "I was looking at Colvin and I was like `Oh, it's going to drop in front of him.' And the next thing you know Barney comes flying through."
So, the streak officially ends at 33 games after it began July 5. Since then, Uggla has raised his batting average from .173 to .231. He also cracked 15 home runs and drove in 32 during the streak — a remarkable stretch for a guy who admitted he didn't think he had it in him.
"That's more games than I thought I would ever have," Uggla said.
If not for Barney's play, who knows how the game's outcome might change — or how long Uggla's streak lasts?