DENVER -- Until the last couple of games, Jordan Walker seemed like a one-man hit parade, often among few highlights in a dark stretch of games to open the Cardinals’ season. But Walker had plenty of company in a celebratory clubhouse when he tied a record that has stood for over a century in Wednesday’s 7-4 series finale win in Colorado, recording a hit in each of his first 12 consecutive games to begin his big league career.
Walker waited until the ninth inning, driving a hard broken-bat grounder past the sliding shortstop and into left field for a leadoff single to extend his streak to the record dozen. Walker later came around to score on a Paul Goldschmidt double down the left-field line, adding to the two-run lead the Cards had taken in the eighth on Nolan Gorman's go-ahead homer.
“That’s special,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “You take it how you can. You can care less how he got that hit, but it's been fun to watch. He's done a really nice job. He is battling a little bit of altitude here, kind of not feeling 100 percent, but he still was able to give us that last at-bat, so that was good.”
Walker joins Eddie Murphy of the 1912 Philadelphia Athletics as the only AL/NL players since 1900 to accomplish the feat before their 21st birthday. Walker began the series in Colorado by passing Hall of Famer Ted Williams for second on the all-time list, and he can take sole ownership of the record when the Cardinals return home Thursday.
“I'd be lying to say it wasn't cool,” Walker said. “Even if it isn't my main focus right now, it is still pretty cool to know I have that accomplishment.”
Walker is also tied with the Phillies’ Bryson Stott for the longest active hitting streak in the Major Leagues this season. The 20-year-old is showing remarkable composure, taking his historic streak in stride.
“Honestly, I’m just doing my job,” Walker said. “Especially if I'm the one leading off the inning. I know no matter what, I got to get on base. And so in a lot of these late-inning rallies, I’m just like, 'Let me just put something up the middle, put something in the hole.' I was a little out in front, but I’m glad I could get it to the outfield, get on base for our heavy hitters.”
Walker already holds the Cardinals' rookie record for a hitting streak to open a career, having passed Magneuris Sierra on Monday, and he’s nearly halfway to the Cards rookie record for any hitting streak, set by current Cardinals bench coach Joe McEwing with a 25-game streak in 1999.
Needless to say, Cards fans have been thrilled by Walker's 12-game career and will be eager to welcome him home as the team takes on the Pirates at Busch Stadium.
“I'm glad they're following, for sure,” Walker said. “It's been pretty cool. I'm mostly just glad that we won these last two and we're getting into our groove a little bit.”
The longest streak to open a career by a player of any age is 17, shared by David Dahl with the Rockies in 2016 and Chuck Aleno with the Reds in 1941.