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Polanco sets Pirates record for longest hitting streak to start career

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 3:06 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco watches his base hit to extend his hitting streak during the fourth inning against the Reds Thursday, June, 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco fits bumps third base coach Nick Leyva during the fifth inning against the Reds Thursday, June, 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco singles during the fourth inning against the Reds Thursday, June, 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco stands at the plate in a downpour during the sixth inning against the Reds Thursday, June, 19, 2014, at PNC Park.

Gregory Polanco knows how to make an entrance.

The prized Pirates rookie on Thursday set the club record for longest hitting streak to begin a career by recording a hit in a ninth straight game. The previous club record was an eight-game streak by Spencer Adams in 1923.

The longest hitting streak to begin a career in major league history is 17 games, set by Chuck Aleno in 1941 with the Cincinnati Reds. Pirates great Roberto Clemente began his career with a seven-game hitting streak in 1955.

“It's special. He's cleared a number of (firsts) off,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It gives you goose bumps anytime you hear a ‘Not since Clemente,' that gets your attention.”

No Pirate had reached base Thursday against Reds starter Homer Bailey until Polanco looped a single into shallow right field in the fourth inning. Polanco also added an infield single in the fifth inning, giving him his fifth multi-hit game.

“That's exciting, I didn't even know that,” Polanco said of the record. “I feel proud.”

It's been quite a start for the Pirates' top prospect. On Friday in Miami, Polanco had a five-hit game, including a game-winning homer — the first home run of his major league career.

Polanco's speed and all-fields approach has translated to major league success. He has slashed 95-plus mph fastballs to left field, turned on hanging breaking pitches and beaten out three infield hits.

Polanco is not only living up to the hype, but he also is exceeding it.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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