Early single extends DiMaggio's streak in loss

Early single extends DiMaggio's streak in loss

NEW YORK, June 21, 1941 -- Joe DiMaggio didn't waste any time keeping his spectacular hitting streak alive and Phil Rizzuto, of all people, hit an unlikely record-tying home run.

But for the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, those were the only things worth watching as New York fell to Detroit by a score of 7 to 2 in a rather listless performance before 20,067 persons in Yankee Stadium.

Joe DiMaggio's run to 56: Rewriting the record

The now-daily drama that the crowds and country have been eager to watch unfold became a foregone conclusion in the first inning as DiMaggio rapped out a hit in his 34th consecutive game, which put him within seven of George Sisler's American League record of 41, established while with the St. Louis Browns in 1922.

After Yankees pitcher Atley Donald navigated through a scoreless top of the first, New York set the stage for DiMaggio with a Johnny Sturm leadoff single, a Red Rolfe base hit and a double-play ball off the bat of Tommy Henrich that left Sturm on third base.

The ballpark percolated as DiMaggio greeted a Dizzy Trout pitch with a sharp right-handed swing that sent a single to right field, scoring Sturm and securing Game No. 34 for the history books.

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After that single, which would turn out to be DiMaggio's only hit of the game, general drudgery set in for the Yankees when the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the second, added two more in the third, and built a 7-1 lead with three more in the top of the sixth.

The only point of intrigue on an otherwise lost afternoon for the home nine in the Bronx was to see if the Yankees could keep another streak going. The club had hit at least one home run in 16 consecutive games and was one away from tying the Major League record of 17 set by this Detroit club last September, but that skein was in doubt heading into the bottom of the seventh.

Fortunately for New York, a good thing came in a little package on Saturday. Diminutive shortstop Rizzuto, who brought one home run for the season into the matinee, led off the frame with a homer into the left-field stands, giving the crowd a bit of happiness on an otherwise rough afternoon.

The Yankees had tied Detroit for the home run mark and done so with 28 total homers during those 17 games, exceeding the Tigers' 26 in the same span in 1940.

And there was one more positive: first-place Cleveland lost in 13 innings in Washington, meaning the Yankees are still only two games out of first place in the AL standings -- and tied in the loss column with 25.

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.