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Whit Merrifield sets new Royals record with 31-game hitting streak

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On Tuesday, Royals outfielder Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 30 games — dating back to last season, of course — with a first-inning triple against the Mariners. That matched Hall of Famer George Brett for the Royals record.

Hitless in his first three at-bats on Wednesday against the Mariners, Merrifield set the new Royals record with a bunt single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Terrance Gore had just hit a two-out RBI single. Merrifield laid down a bunt on the left side, plating Gore to tie the game up at 5-5.

Merrifield entered Wednesday’s action batting .349/.378/.558 with five extra-base hits and three stolen bases in 45 plate appearances. His 31-game hitting streak is baseball’s longest since Dan Uggla hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011 with the Braves.

Braves promote Alex Anthopoulos, extend Brian Snitker

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The Atlanta Braves announced this morning that they have promoted general manager Alex Anthopoulos to President, Baseball Operations and General Manager and have extended his contract through 2024. They have likewise extended the contracts of manager Brian Snitker and his coaching staff through the 2021 season.

Anthopoulos’ promotion will not likely change his duties very much, as it’s become increasingly common for top baseball operations executives to be given the title of “president” as opposed to “GM.” Part of this is some expansion of the role of said executives. Some of it is simple title inflation. Some of it is to prevent other teams from being able to interview and potentially poach top executives without permission under the guise of promotion.

Anthopoulos was hired following the 2017 season, replacing former GM John Coppolella, who resigned and was subsequently permanently banned from baseball following his involvement in a scandal in which he breached rules in connection with signings of international players and obstructed Major League Baseball’s investigation into it all. Before that Antopoulos served as the Blue Jays’ GM for seven years.

Snitker took over as interim manager when the Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez in the middle of the 2016 season. He and Coppolella did not get along and there were strong suggestions that he would never lose the interim tag, but he has been on far steadier ground since Anthopoulos took over. Winning helps, of course, and under the leadership of Anthopoulos and Snitker, the Braves have won the last two NL East titles, going 187-137 in the past two seasons.