Apr 21, 2011

Game 6

April 21, 1911
Philadelphia 4, Boston 13

Philadelphia 0 0 0
0 0 2
2 0 0 -- 4 8 4
Boston 1 3 1
0 5 0
2 1 x -- 13 17 2

The Athletics played their first road game of the year at Boston's Huntington Avenue Grounds (above)* to distressingly similar results to their last home game, giving up 13 runs to the Red Sox for their fifth loss of the young season.

The Red Sox teed off against the A's for 17 hits, with every member of their lineup collecting at least one. HOFer Tris Speaker (who, it turns out, was very good at baseball**) went 3-4.

Jack Coombs started for the A's, but only lasted two innings thanks to his case of malaria, an affliction seldom experienced by today's big leaguers. He left the team to recuperate at his home in Maine. Lefty Russell*** replaced him on the mound and, while blessedly malaria-free, he didn't fare much better against Boston's lineup in his six innings of relief. Eddie Cicotte, later notable as a member of the Black Sox, got the win for Boston.

Now just 1-5, the team was hurt by poor hitting and inconsistent pitching and, from some of the accounts I've seen, costly fielding errors. As far as hitting goes, according to Francis Richter of Sporting Life, "Murphy, Collins, and Lapp are hitting the ball best for the Athletics. Men whose eyes are not set right yet are Baker, Davis, Barry, and Oldring." Another explanation came from Mack himself (from Richter's account): "Manager Mack, of the Athletics, is quoted as saying that one reason for the Athletics slump is "too many bridegrooms" and that "being one himself he doesn't know how to handle the case." Mack married his second wife (he was a widow) shortly after the team's victory in the 1910 World Series.

But with such a poor start, you've got to figure that A's fans were starting to get frustrated. Here's an item from that same issue of Sporting Life:
The "Record" voices the general sense of all competent local critics of the game when it says: "the well-balanced Athletic team should be stronger than ever once the men get going right. The weight of World's Championship honors possibly rests heavily on the minds of some of the men and the new benedicts**** naturally take less kindly to hard work than they did of yore. But all of them will come around in time."
I get the sense from the reference to "competent critics" that there was probably significant grumbling about the team's start by certain members of the press. I guess some things about baseball in 1911 weren't all that different from today.

Well, I'll count myself among the competent critics by stating that I feel this team will come around, and the hitters will begin to set their eyes right soon.

* Featuring a 635 foot (!) center field that included a tool shed that was in play. 1912 would be the first year of Fenway Park. I'd say a tool shed is much more interesting than a big green wall as a quirky ball park feature.

**.325/.428/.500 on his career with a whopping 133.0 WAR and 792 doubles, the most of all time.

*** A pitcher whose
baseball-reference.com page is delightfully sponsored by a Suzuki extended warranty website. Francis Richter of Sporting Life magazine reports that he was a highly-touted minor leaguer and that "no pitcher in the country has anything on 'Lefty' Russell in holding a base runner on the bag." That may have been so, but his inability to get anyone out made his career a short one.

**** I had to look this up; it means newly married man. I guess the Record agrees with Connie Mack on that count.

Richter's relevant column

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