Apr 15, 2011

Game 3

April 15, 1911
Yankees 7, Athletics 4
-------------------......-..----..------------R H E
New York...... 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 3 - 7 13 2
Philadelphia.. 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 - 4 10 1

[click box score to enlarge]

After getting rained out the prior day, the A's fall to 0-3 with a sweep at the hands of the Yankees/Americans/Highlanders. This is the first game in which the Athletics were really able to do any hitting, putting together 10 hits today compared to just 3 and 5 in their first and second games. It wasn't enough to topple New York, though, which won in 10 innings and pulled out of Philadelphia tied with Detroit on top of the standings after the season's first series.

The NYT called the game a rout. The Yanks controlled most of the game, but a late rally by the home team tied it up in the bottom of the ninth to force the extra frame (thanks in part to a key error by player-manager Hal Chase, "the gingery leader of the invaders"). Mack called upon Allan Collamore to pitch the 10th (his major league debut). It was an introduction to big-league play that he'd have likely sooner forgotten, as the Yankees scored three easy runs, and after a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th, they "galloped gleefully away."

So here we are three games into the season, and the defending champs, their team largely intact from the prior year, are winless. Was there much gnashing of teeth from the local fans? Despair over the meager offensive output, inconsistent pitching, and poorly timed fielding errors? Imagine the reaction from the Philadelphia fans if our highly touted Phillies this year came out of the gate 0-3*. Look at the coverage of this year's Red Sox after they were swept by Texas.

Well, I can't say if Philadelphians were hitting the panic button 100 years ago today; I can't seem to dig up any fan blogs from the time for some reason. But our friend Francis Richter didn't seem concerned after watching the A's struggle in their first series. "Worry over the matter is entirely misplaced," he assured readers of his "Quaker Quips" column. "The Athletics, always slow starters, have the power and ability to push their way to the front in due time, and will be out in front, fresh and strong, when the race begins to tell upon their competitors."

That's the kind of pragmatism and level-headedness I like to see from my sports writers. It makes you feel a lot better about the team's prospects, no?

A few other observations:
  • I can't find any mention of a New York "sweep" in either of the accounts of the series I unearthed. Could it be that the term hadn't been popularized yet?

  • Most modern fans wouldn't consider a 3-run win to be a rout. But this was the deadball era, and runs were much more at a premium**, so three runs was a big deal. Secondly, I think of a rout as a game in which one team dominated from beginning to end. The Yankees did lead 4-0 by the top of the seventh, but the A's came back to tie the game and force extra innings. It's tough to call a game that went to extra innings a rout unless the winning team piled on an absurd number of runs in extras.

  • This is the first extra-inning game of the season, and the first use of relief pitching by Connie Mack. Obviously, we'll be seeing a lot less of that than with modern teams. 97 of the A's 152 games were completed by the starting pitcher. Contrast that to today, in which Halladay and Lee the last two days were the first Phillies pitchers to complete back-to-back games in 12 years.

  • Poor Allan Collamore. After his disastrous debut, he'll only pitch one more inning for the Athletics this year. Spoiler alert: his next one is even worse. After that, he disappeared from baseball for two years before turning up for a couple of seasons with Cleveland.

  • The A's NL counterparts from 6 blocks down Lehigh Avenue were off to a better start, with, according to Richter, "two clean-cut victories over their ancient enemies and dearest foes, the New York Giants, on the grounds of the latter." If I had thought of the Giants as our ancient enemies, I would have been madder about losing the NLCS to them last year.

  • With the Yankees moving on, it's time to bid farewell for now to the excellent and readily available articles/box scores from the New York Times until the teams cross paths again. Hopefully I'll be able to keep finding good sources for game reports.
Next up, the Red Sox bring Smoky Joe Wood and HOFer Tris Speaker to town for a two game stand starting on the 17th.

* I mean, heck, I was at the third game of the season this year when the team was 2-0, and the yahoos behind me started booing Hamels in the first inning before he had even given up a single run. It seemed like the majority of the fans present followed two innings later when the visitors took a three-run lead. I'd like to think that the 1911 fans were a bit more patient and knowledgeable about how the game of baseball actually works.

** That's true for the general era, but oddly enough, the AL offense of 1911 was roughly on par with 2010 - about four and a half runs per team per game. This represents the leading edge of a short mid-deadball-era spike in scoring. The prior year, AL teams scored about a run fewer per game. This jump will merit a closer look at some point during the season.

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