MLB Notebook: A's overpower Mariners
On a Friday the 13th in April 1928, an estimated 18,000 fans were lucky enough to be eyewitnesses for a rollicking game between the Yankees and Athletics.
This affair included nine future Hall of Famers (Earle Combs, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Leo Durocher and Waite Hoyt for the Yankees; Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Mickey Cochrane and Eddie Collins for the Athletics) who got into the game, was managed by two other future Hall of Famers (Connie Mack and Miller Huggins) and featured the Yankees -- who had smacked around the A's in the teams' Opening Day game two days earlier -- jumping out to a 7-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings before Mack's A's mounted a furious comeback with runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
The Athletics homered three times in the game, but fell just short of a complete comeback, taking an 8-7 loss. The final pitcher of the game for the A's was a southpaw named Ossie Orwoll, who was making his Major League debut. Orwoll tossed seven innings in relief, and at the plate he picked up his first hit -- a double. In his next outing, Orwoll tripled, making him one of the very few Athletics players in club history to collect an extra-base hit in each of his first two career games.
A's three-homer games
Thursday, behind home runs from Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes, the Athletics beat the Mariners, 4-1. Collecting at least three home runs in a game is a relatively rare occurrence for the Athletics, and generally an indication the ballclub will win.
In 2011, Oakland tallied at least three home runs in a game only three times -- the fewest in the Majors. In '10, they were tied for the second fewest (six); in '09, they tied for the fifth fewest (nine), and in '08, they had the sixth fewest (nine). From '08-12, they have hit at least three home runs in a game 28 times -- the fewest in the Majors over this span.
Since the start of the 2008 season, the Athletics are 25-3 (.893 winning percentage) when hitting at least three home runs, with their most recent defeat coming on May 23, 2009. They have won 18 games in a row when clouting at least three homers. Since '08, Major League teams are 1,326-327 (.802) when hitting at least three home runs in a contest.
The last time the Athletics hit three homers in a game this early into the season was in 2005, when they smacked four against the Orioles in a 9-0 win in their second contest. The three-homer game Thursday marked the eighth time since 1920 the Athletics hit at least three in one of their first two games of the season. Besides 2012 and '05, they also did it in '00 (first game), 1989 (second game), '41 (second game), '34 (second game), '28 (second game) and '25 (first game).
In his second Major League contest, Yoenis Cespedes went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run -- his first four-bagger in the Majors. In his debut Wednesday, Cespedes went 1-for-3 with a double. Cespedes is the first Athletics player since 1997 to have at least one extra-base hit in each of his first two Major League games, and only the eighth to do it since 1920. In '97, Jason McDonald had at least one in each of his first three games, and Ben Grieve had at least one in his first two. The others: Jim Poole ('25), Charlie Bates ('27), Orwoll ('28), Dario Lodigiani ('38) and Buddy Blair ('42).
Cespedes is the 75th Cuban-born player to homer in the Majors. The top five in career homers: Rafael Palmeiro (569), Jose Canseco (462), Tony Perez (379), Tony Oliva (220) and Minnie Minoso (186).
Bartolo Colon picked up the victory for the Athletics, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings. Colon was the first Oakland pitcher since Dave Stewart on April 4, 1988, to go at least eight innings and allow no more than three hits in either of the team's first two games of the season. Stewart's performance (8 1/3 innings, two hits, one run) came on Opening Day, and was also against the Mariners.
Colon's game score -- an equation used to determine a pitcher's dominance -- of 77 was the highest for an Athletics pitcher in one of the first two games of the season since Tim Hudson (in Oakland's second game) earned an 80 in 2000. Hudson's line: seven shutout innings on one hit, with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Colon and Grant Balfour combined to strike out seven with one walk. In the first game of the season, A's pitchers didn't issue a walk. In the live-ball era, the one walk over the first two games is the fewest for the franchise. Last year, both the Phillies and the Mariners each issued just one walk in their first two games of the season. It should also be noted that through the first two games in 2012, Mariners pitchers have issued only two walks, with both coming in the 4-1 loss Thursday.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.