There’s swinging a hot bat, and then there’s what Angels rookie first baseman Jared Walsh has been doing in September.
Walsh has been otherworldly at the plate lately, and he reached an incredible milestone in a 7-3 win over the D-backs on Thursday, when he became the first rookie with both an RBI and a run scored in nine consecutive games since the RBI became a stat in 1920, per Stats Perform. Additionally, he’s the first American League player to accomplish the feat since David Ortiz did it for the Twins in 2002.
"That's pretty impressive," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "The thing that he's doing is that he's not trying to eat the whole meal every at-bat. That's pretty impressive, a run and an RBI for nine consecutive games. Rookie or no rookie, that's pretty impressive."
Only four players in history have had longer streaks: Rudy York (12, 1940 Tigers), Bobby Abreu (10, 2005 Phillies) and Hall of Famers Ted Williams (11, 1950 Red Sox) and Lou Gehrig (10, 1930 Yankees). He's only the eighth player in AL history to post a nine-game hit streak along with an RBI and a run scored in each game, joining York, Williams, Gehrig, Ortiz, Don Mattingly, Rocky Colavito and Joe DiMaggio.
Walsh reached the milestone with a single in the first inning and a sacrifice fly in the second off D-backs lefty Alex Young. Both helped the Angels build an early lead in the series finale at Angel Stadium after they fell into early holes in losses on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Walsh also lined out to left in the fourth and was robbed of a single in the seventh on a diving stop and throw by second baseman Josh VanMeter. A hit in either at-bat would've given Walsh his seventh straight multihit game. He had homered in six of his last seven games entering Thursday but went 1-for-3 with a single in the finale.
"There's a fly ball to left to score a run, a little looper to the left side and then it's the bullet that the second baseman makes a great play on," Maddon said. "I like that. I like when a guy plays the whole game. Not every at-bat, not every pitch is going to be a home run. But a lot of guys act that way. He doesn't, and I really like that about his offensive approach."
Walsh, 27, is batting .417 (20-for-48) with seven homers, 18 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 13 games this month. Walsh’s breakout performance comes after he opened the season by going 0-for-13 in his first 10 games through Aug. 31. He tested positive for COVID-19 before the start of the season.
Walsh, a 39th-round pick in the 2015 Draft, hit 36 homers in 98 games with Triple-A Salt Lake last year and is playing his way into the starting first-base job for the Angels next year.
Walsh wasn't the only Angels player to have a big day offensively, as David Fletcher and Taylor Ward both racked up three-hit games. Anthony Rendon also connected on a two-run blast in the first inning. It backed right-hander Griffin Canning, who allowed two runs (one earned) over five innings to get his first win of the year.
Canning, who improved to 1-3 with a 4.29 ERA, said he noticed what Walsh can do in the Minor Leagues and has been happy to see it begin to translate to the Majors.
"I've been looking forward to Walshy just getting up here and getting consistent playing time," Canning said. "The numbers that he's put up in Triple A, he deserved to get some playing time and get a good look. For a lot of us, it's not a surprise. He's watching baseball all the time, studying baseball and we're obviously really happy for him."