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This Day in Yankees History: The Iron Horse reaches 2K

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Gehrig plays in his 2,000th straight game, Mussina goes the distance against the eventual AL champs, and Tanaka was in Cy Young form

Lou Gehrig... Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, the Pinstripe Alley team decided to take a look back through history. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (May 31)

82 Years Ago

Lou Gehrig made history on this date, becoming the first player to play in 2,000 consecutive games. He contributed an RBI single in the Yankees’ 12-5 victory over the Red Sox in New York. Gehrig would play another 130 game in a row before ALS forced him to make a sudden retirement, and his record of consecutive games played would be untouched for decades until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995.

14 Years Ago

The Yankees and Tigers were two of the best teams in MLB when they collided on this date in 2006, with both clubs at least 10 games over .500 already. Mike Mussina was already in midseason form, and he dominated Detroit by going the distance in this outing. Mussina allowed six hits and just one run en route to picking up his seventh win of the season, pitching to a 2.42 ERA at the time.

Tigers starter Nate Robertson almost matched Mussina in distance, going 8.2 innings that night, but he got touched up for six runs and had trouble getting Jason Giambi or Alex Rodriguez out. The pair went 6-for-8 combined and drove in half of the Yankee runs, giving Mussina a comfortable lead as he cruised to victory.

Six Years Ago

Masahiro Tanaka was electric in his debut season in New York, and he put on a show on this day against the Minnesota Twins. Tanaka had complete control from the onset, painting the strike zone and picking up nine strikeouts over eight innings of work. Tanaka’s season stats sat at 8-1 with a 2.06 ERA after that performance, and he was a frontrunner for the Cy Young in just his first MLB season.

Unfortunately, his arm didn’t hold up throughout the season to keep him in the conversation. A little more than a month later, Tanaka would go on the IL and miss over two months with a partially-torn UCL that would remain a constant worry for Tanaka’s career. Despite not returning to this level of dominance, Tanaka has remained a crucial part of the Yankees rotation.

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Happy birthday to Kenny Lofton, a centerfielder who would appear on the Hall of Fame ballot and enjoyed a great career in Cleveland who briefly put on pinstripes. Lofton was a member of the Yankees for the 2004 season, a period late in Lofton’s career where he was more of a journeyman than long-term starter. He played in 83 games for New York, slashing .275/.346/.395 with three home runs.

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We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.