The New York Yankees were held scoreless by the Texas Rangers on Monday, bringing to an end the second-longest shutout streak in MLB history
For most of the 2019 season, the New York Yankees have been forced to keep their lineup together with Band-Aids.
Somehow, through freak injuries and sudden retirements, they’ve managed to make it work. The Bronx Bombers have scored the second-most runs in the Major Leagues this season and are comfortably on their way to the AL East title and a postseason appearance in October. The power of the lineup, though, consisting of undrafted free agents and players no one else wanted, is perhaps best shown in the historic streak that finally came to an end on Monday.
On June 30 of last season, Boston Red Sox pitchers Chris Sale, Heath Hembree and Hector Velazquez held the Yankees to two hits in an 11-0 loss. Since then, 429 days and 220 games later, the Yankees had managed to cross home plate at least once every time they took the field. Their streak without being shutout was the second-longest in Major League history. Only the Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig, who scored a run in 308 straight games from Aug. 3, 1931, to Aug. 3, 1933, managed a longer one.
The run came to an end against the Texas Rangers on Monday at Yankee Stadium. Rangers starter Mike Minor held the Yankees off the scoreboard, giving up five hits in 7.1 innings. It became official when reliever Emmanuel Clase got Luke Voit to ground out to second for the final out in a 6-0 Rangers win.
The Yankees were the first team to even go 162 games without getting shutout since the 2000-01 Cincinnati Reds, a team that manager Aaron Boone played on. But the sheer length of the streak doesn’t fully show just how dominant they were while it lasted. The Yankees scored 1,247 runs in the 220 games, the most in the Majors and an average of more than 5.5 a game. Their 392 home runs were 30 more than any other team. Gleyber Torres led the team during the streak with 116 RBI, while 18 different batters drove in at least 20 runs. Fifteen players hit 10 or more home runs.
While the Yankees were making history, no one else even came close. Every other team has been shutout at least twice just this season. The Miami Marlins have been shutout 26 times since the streak started. Even the Minnesota Twins, the only other club to score more runs than the Yankees this year, have been shutout three times in 2019 alone.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the streak isn’t how they did it or even that it happened at all. It’s who they did it with. The Yankees set a Major League record this season by sending 29 players to the IL. That left their lineup barely resembling the one they thought they would have to begin the season. Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird, three players expected to be everyday players this season, have combined to drive in just nine runs. Aaron Hicks, the Yankees’ regular center fielder, hasn’t played in a month.
Instead, it’s been the likes of third baseman Gio Urshela, purchased from the Toronto Blue Jays last August, who have emerged as the stars of the team. Urshela, a career .225 in parts of three prior seasons, is hitting .331 for the Yankees with 18 home runs, more than doubling his career total. Mike Ford, a 27-year-old rookie undrafted free agent from Princeton, has added 10 home runs. And DJ LeMahieu, a two-time All-Star who wasn’t even expected to be an everyday player for the Yankees, has emerged as an MVP candidate after leading the AL with a .335 average.
The streak may be over, but it’s a testament to the perseverance of these unheralded players that it went as long as it did. Plus, being second to Ruth and Gehrig isn’t something to be sorry about.