April 22, 1911
Philadelphia 3, Boston 4
The A's go down for the third straight game to the Red Sox, but at least this time it's a more respectable score. This game went to extras, with the Bostons pulling out the win in the bottom of the 10th. Vermonter Ray Collins took the hill for Boston against Harry Krause (left).
I won't bother with the box score in this game, because the one I found is too blurry to make out. But it was clear enough for me to see that there were two silver linings for the A's today. First, Eddie Collins went 3 for 4, and it's always nice to see one of your stars have a good game.
And second, this was the first game of the season in which the Athletics didn't commit a fielding error. During the early days of baseball, errors were a much bigger part of the game. AL teams averaged 302 for the season, or just under 2 per game (154-game season). So an error-free outing is a nice occurrence. Contrast that to today, when each team averaged 101 errors in 2010, or about .62 per game.
As for the 1911 A's, they only committed 228 errors, which was by far the best in the American League. Of course, detailed fielding statistics other than errors are lacking for this era, and we know that assigning errors can be unreliable, but you've got to assume that this is a big reason they gave up the fewest runs in the AL.
Now the A's had two HOF pitchers anchoring their rotation, so that goes a long way towards keeping the other team from scoring. But that low error total is really the only evidence we have of their defense, and we know how important defense can be (especially if you've got a good one in an era when 2 errors a game was the norm). Maybe if we all pool our money, we can send John Dewan back in time to figure out how many runs the A's defense prevented.
Well, all I can say is it would have been nice if they had prevented two more runs today and come away with the win. 1-6 is no way to start a season when you're trying to repeat as champs.