STOCKTON - When the longest hitting streak in the Oakland A’s’ farm system since 2014 was snapped last weekend, there were was really only one course of action to take.
At least for Jonah Heim, anyway. The 6-foot-4 catcher dug into whatever side of the plate the situation called for, and started a new one.
Heim, the switch-hitter manning the cleanup spot for the Stockton Ports, had his hitting streak of 19 straight games come to an end Sunday. He started a new streak the very next day, and carried a two-game streak into Wednesday night’s 6-3 loss to Rancho Cucamonga at the Stockton Ballpark.
Melvin Mercedes had two of Stockton’s four hits on the night, including a home run and three RBI. Ports starter Zack Erwin threw five innings, allowing two runs while scattering nine hits and striking out four.
Delta College alum Dean Kremer took the hill for Rancho Cucamonga, tossing six innings with one run on three hits while striking out seven to earn the win. The Quakes had a 3-1 lead when Kremer left the game, then tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh.
Mercedes’ home run in the seventh made things 6-3, but Stockton couldn’t get any closer than that.
Flipping the calendar back to April 19, the start of Heim’s streak, the backstop was hitting .188 with a .316 on-base percentage. For the better part of the next month, Heim went 34 for 83 for a .410 clip complete with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI.
“It probably started like any other day,” Heim said. “Just going out, feeling pretty good and swinging the bat well. That’s all you can ask for as a hitter.”
Heim, a 22-year-old from Amherst, New York, said he wasn’t keeping track of the streak. At least not at first. Even when he got wind of it once the number reached double digits, Heim said he tried to just go out and play baseball.
Still, he was locked in at the plate. And it showed.
“I was just getting good pitches to hit. I wasn’t fouling them off; I was hitting them hard and putting them in play,” Heim said. “That’s right where I want to be, and that’s where I was for a good stretch of time.”
When the streak did end, Heim said there was a small part of him that instinctively thought “time to start a new one.” More than that, though, Heim said his focus remains on helping the Ports in the win column.
“I just want to keep playing good baseball, and hopefully help get a championship for Stockton,” Heim said. “That’s the ultimate goal for our time.”
Of course, anytime Oakland beat writers start mentioning your name, and the A’s themselves send out a congratulatory tweet, it’s got to feel good.
“When you have guys at the top of the organization paying attention, that’s what you want as a minor leaguer,” Heim said. “When you get that recognition, it’s awesome.”