Superstitions have very little chance to survive in the Modesto Nuts' clubhouse.
Manager Jerry Weinstein says he doesn't believe in them, and you get the feeling that if a Nuts pitcher took a perfect game late into a game, one of his teammates would buy a scoreboard ad to announce the feat in progress.
So it's appropriate that Jeff Kindel's 19-game hitting streak, which he extended with an RBI double in the first inning of the Nuts' 6-3 victory over Stockton on Tuesday, is far from sacred.
"Dan (Carte) has to say something to me about it every day," Kindel said. "It's almost to the point where I can't wait for it to end, just to make him shut up about it."
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The streak is the second-longest in the California League this season, next to the record-tying 35-game run put together by Bakersfield's Chris Davis. And during the streak, Kindel is hitting at a .442 clip (34 for 73) to raise his average to .303.
"His approach is consistent," Weinstein said. "He competes in every at-bat and doesn't give any at-bats away."
Alan Johnson (9-5) gave up a solo homer to Tommy Everidge in the fifth inning, but allowed only three other hits during his seven-inning stint to gain his fourth win in his last five decisions.
The Nuts also are streaking as a team. Tuesday's win was their eighth in a row against their rivals from San Joaquin County. They are 17-5 in July and doing it with a simple, yet, effective philosophy: Score early, keep pounding. Modesto has scored in the first inning in six of its 10 home games this month.
"We're getting our leads early and letting our pitchers put zeroes on the board, which gives us a chance to extend the lead later," Kindel said.
Modesto scored in each of the first four innings against Stockton starter Brad Davis (4-5), collecting six extra-base hits along the way.
Eric Young Jr. and Kindel both doubled in the first, and Jose Valdez and Cole Garner both doubled in the second. Kindel doubled again in the third to make it 3-0 and scored on Carte's single.
Travis Becktel launched his sixth homer of the season in the fourth to give Modesto a 5-0 lead.
The Nuts' offense was slowed in the middle innings by reliever Brandon Dewing. The lefty from Davis High allowed a run on two hits in 2ª innings. The run scored when Young's two-out single plated Becktel from second base.
Stockton began to hit when Johnson left the game. The Ports had three singles in the eighth, but left the bases loaded against reliever Tomas Santiago. David Patton gave up two runs in the ninth on two hits, including a solo homer by Jon Zeringue.
But it was another win fueled by another fast offensive start that allowed the Nuts to move back into sole possession of first place in the California League's North Division.
"You can see the ball really well in this park during those first few innings," Kindel said. "In some of those parks down south, Bakersfield especially, we have trouble seeing the ball early in games."
If you can't see the ball well in the first few innings, that's a wasted at-bat. And when a hitting streak is going on, every at-bat is precious.
"Hopefully I can keep it up," Kindel said, "even with these guys all over me every day about it."
To comment, click the link with this story at modbee.com. Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.