Hitting streak puts Volpe in company with Jeter, DiMaggio

Shortstop extends streak to 19 games, but starters' scoreless innings streak ends in loss

May 27th, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- Two Yankees streaks ended on Sunday afternoon, but another lives on. And that streak is one for the franchise’s thick history book.

Leadoff batter is riding the longest Yankees hitting streak since Derek Jeter’s Silver Slugger days. But the rotation saw its streak of scoreless innings end at 30 1/3 in the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Padres on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. The Yankees’ four-game winning streak also was snapped.

Volpe notched a leadoff hit in each of the first two games of the series, but it took him until the sixth inning on Sunday to reach 19 straight games with a hit. That matched Jeter, who had a 19-game streak from Sept. 4-25, 2012.

If Volpe is keeping classy company with Jeter, how about this one? The 23-year-old Volpe joined Joe DiMaggio as the only Yankees hitters with at least a 19-game hitting streak at age 23 or younger. DiMaggio had a 22-gamer and a 21-gamer at age 22 in 1937.

The shortstop has batted .333 during the streak and has scored 13 runs.

“A continuing, evolving, outstanding player,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Hungry, having the ability to make adjustments. He’s on a lot in front of some great, great hitters. That’s crucial, and it’s been a driving force for our offense.”

Boone said Volpe will remain the leadoff hitter even after DJ LeMahieu returns from the injured list. (The veteran infielder is to make his 2024 debut on Tuesday night against the Angels.) LeMahieu was the Yankees’ most-used leadoff hitter in 2023, with 58 starts.

Volpe got off to a great start to this season, batting .382 through 15 games. He then hit .163 over his next 20 before rolling off the current streak. Clearly, he has adjusted to the opponents’ adjustments against him.

“The aptitude that he has,” Boone said, “to take what you learn, good and bad, struggles, successes and be able to continue to make those adjustments, those are separators -- average to good, good to great players. He has all those intangible qualities.”

Volpe’s hard-hit grounder past second baseman Jake Cronenworth turned into the first run of the game after Volpe stole second base and Juan Soto ripped an RBI double off Padres starter Joe Musgrove.

“As he gets more at-bats under his belt, he’s going to continue to improve,” Yankees captain Aaron Judge said after Volpe’s streak reached 18. “He’s using the whole field. … When he uses the whole field and he uses his feet, he’s one of the best shortstops in the game. We’re lucky we have him.”

The Yankees’ rotation’s string of zeros came to an end in the bottom half of the sixth inning, however. used his cutter to great effect (10 whiffs) to pitch into the sixth without a run allowed. But Cronenworth got aboard on a fielding error by second baseman Gleyber Torres, and Manny Machado walked on Schmidt’s 101st pitch of the game.

The Padres cashed in both runners after Boone called for the bullpen. One run against Schmidt was unearned, but the scoreless streak ended, nonetheless. Not long thereafter, the Yankees’ winning streak was over, too.

San Diego stormed to the lead with four runs in a rally that featured two walks and two infield singles, in addition to the error.

Schmidt has allowed three runs or fewer in all 11 starts this season, and his ERA sits at an impressive 2.52.

“If this was one of my grinder outings, then I’m very happy with it,” Schmidt said.

The Yankees have an off-day on Monday, so they’ll have to wait until Tuesday to try to start a new winning streak when they open a series against the Angels in Anaheim. Volpe, however, has his streak intact.

As he added to it each day in San Diego, the Yankees weighed the difficulty of going on an extended tear in the age of higher velocity pitches, seeing more pitchers each game and deep bullpens full of max-effort arms.

“Getting one hit in a game is hard with the type of guys we’re facing,” said Judge, who has been on a heater of his own.

Added Boone: “It’s harder to hit now than when I played, that’s for sure.”