April 28, 1911
Washington 2, Philadelphia 1
(from the Washington Times; click to enlarge)
The A's no doubt thought they were on quite a roll after winning four straight, moving up two spots in the standings, and needing just one win to reach a .500 record for the first time. But a pitcher by the name of Walter Johnson was standing in the way of win number 5. Just about everybody knows that the Big Train was one of the best to ever pick up a baseball, so I won't bother talking about how great he was*. Just look at all that black ink.
How did the game go? Take it away, Senator: "Johnson was himself. At first he didn't look very good, but as the game progressed he assumed all the colors of the rainbow for beauty, and those champeens bowed their heads in grief as they went out at first, one after the other."
As the cartoon above implies, Johnson did his best to earn that fat $7,000 salary he was pulling in that season. And his pitching was just what the anemic Nats offense needed (last place in the AL with just a .219 team BA and 28 runs scored in 9 games). Their two runs in the 7th were just enough to give Johnson his first win of the season**.
Jack Coombs continued his post-malaria excellence giving up six hits over 9 innings, but the Big Train was just stingier. The A's only run of the game came from a home run by Home Run Baker*** himself. It was the first homer over the fence that Johnson had ever given up (there were a few of the inside-the-park variety on his resume though). Unfortunately, it was a wild throw by Baker that contributed to Washington's runs in the 7th.
Now 5-7 and winners of four out of their last five, the A's are about to embark on a massive road trip. They'll play the next 22 games in New York, Washington, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, so they'll have seen all 7 other teams in the league by the end of it. They won't be back in Philadelphia for nearly a month.
* I'll let Ty Cobb do it though. When he batted against the 19-year-old Johnson for the first time, he was excited about the chance to throttle the newest hayseed pitcher plugged into the Senators' rotation. Instead, "the first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him... every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park."
** The cartoon from the game of the 26th that featured the medicine bottle labeled "Walter Johnson Reviving Drops" and had a tag reading "Hope coming" proved prophetic.
*** He hadn't gotten his great nickname yet, so by rights I should be calling him Frank, but I can't resist calling him Home Run.
[Today's Source: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1911-04-29/ed-1/seq-12/;words=Athletics]