Yanks best Feller; DiMaggio nears club record

Yanks best Feller; DiMaggio nears club record

NEW YORK, June 14, 1941 -- The scene couldn't have been better set for the Yankees on Saturday, and they did not disappoint.

Not only did they return home to play a game in against the club they're chasing, the first-place Cleveland Indians, but they did so with Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak on the line, with the best pitcher in all of baseball as their adversary and in front of the largest Yankee Stadium crowd of the season.

Joe DiMaggio's run to 56: Rewriting the record

But the Yankees are sizzling into the summer, and they continued to take advantage of every opportunity in a 4 to 1 victory before 44,161 persons that saw them move to within three games of Cleveland. DiMaggio moved to 27 consecutive games with a hit, two off the club record of 29 shared by Earle Combs (1931) and Roger Peckinpaugh ('19).

The task was daunting for the Yanks from the outset Saturday with the great Bob Feller on the mound for the Indians, having won 13 games to two losses.

But they were up to it.

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Tommy Henrich hit a two-out home run in the first inning to give New York some momentum, and the Yankees added a run with a two-out rally in the third. Red Rolfe singled, Henrich singled him to second and DiMaggio kept his streak going with a double to right-center field on a three-balls, no-strikes count that scored Rolfe to assume a rare 2-0 lead off Feller.

Cleveland hit the scoreboard for the first time in the top of the fifth inning when catcher Rollie Hemsley hit a two-out solo homer, but the Yanks scored twice more in the bottom of that frame on a two-run single by Charlie Keller.

Yankees pitcher Atley Donald did the rest, going all nine innings, surrendering only the one run and allowing but three hits and three walks while striking out four. It was enough to do the unfathomable -- outpitch Feller, who surprisingly ended up being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

The win was the club's sixth in a row, and given that it came against the current American League leader, the Yanks were able to trim a game off the Indians' lead in the standings.

Of course, the most popular topic after the game was the continuation of DiMaggio's hitting streak, which is now two games away from Yankees history.

The center fielder with the batting average that has climbed to .341 preferred to downplay its significance, however.

"You know, I don't worry about that stuff," DiMaggio told the The New York Times when asked about the streak.

"It was a big win for us … and we need to go out and do it again tomorrow."

On May 15, 1941, Joe DiMaggio began his legendary 56-game hitting streak. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of that seemingly unbreakable record, we'll be doing a day-by-day account of the momentous feat.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.