You may not have noticed, but New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday‘s performance on Sunday was quite unprecedented.
There was a lot that went down during the New York Yankees 7-3 over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t centered around Matt Holliday at all.
Ronald Torreyes went 3-for-5 with two RBI’s, Aaron Judge slugged a game-tying solo blast off the lights-out Orioles bullpen in the eighth innings and CC Sabathia became the first Yankee pitcher in 2017 to pitch in six innings.
However, it was Holliday’s performance, which was arguably caused by complete luck and lack of command by Oriole pitching, that made sportswriters (or nerds like me) dig for the record books.
The 37-year-old drew five walks on Sunday. Three off starter Wade Miley, who walked seven batters in five innings, one off Tyler Wilson and another off Darren O’Day in five plate appearances. That’s right, the former batting champion went 0-for-0 with five walks.
That sounds unnatural in itself at the major league level and when you look at how infrequently that has happened, that feeling is confirmed.
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Since 1913, only 36 players (including Holliday) in major league baseball have ever walked five times in five plate appearances in a single game. The latest was Tampa Bay Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza, who accomplished the feat on June 5, 2015, against the Washington Nationals.
In Yankees history, only three players before Holliday have ever done so. Hersh Martin did it on Sept. 1, 1944, Lou Gehrig on August 27, 1935, and Roger Peckinpaugh drew five walks in as many trips to the plate on June 2, 1919.
But wait, I’m not done there. The five base on balls on taken by Holliday on Sunday also set a franchise record for walks in a single game last accomplished by former Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira on April 25, 2009, against the Boston Red Sox.
Lastly (I swear, this is the last one), Holliday is the first Yankee to walk five or more times without one of them being an intentional walk since Russ Derry did so on Sept. 6, 1945, against the Detroit Tigers.
Holliday swung the bat just twice and hit two foul balls and while one could attest that these walks meant absolutely nothing in terms of the outcome of the contest, his ninth-inning walk against O’Day ended up being the decisive run as second baseman Starlin Castro drove in Jacoby Ellsbury, who pinch-ran for Holliday, for a go-ahead RBI single.
We’ve said it since the signing of Matt Holliday took place last winter. In addition to his ability to smack the ball out of the ballpark, he will serve as the prototypical mentor for the Baby Bombers. From his leadership in the clubhouse to teaching his swing-happy peers a lesson in patience, this is why the Holliday signing was so significant.