May 13, 2011

Game 21 - A 30-Run Slugfest

May 12, 1911
Philadelphia 17, St. Louis 13

Nothing says “deadball” like a 30-run game, right?

Well actually, this game still fits in well with its time, despite the high score. For one thing, there was just one home run (by Dode Criss of the Browns – I believe this was the first round-tripper surrendered by the A’s all year). And though there was plenty of hitting, there were also a total of 9 errors recorded by the two teams, which no doubt helped goose the score a wee bit.

I don’t know this for sure, but it seems to me that even though scoring was down overall during the first two decades of the 20th century*, barn burners like this were still rather common given the lack of consistency in defense and less parity among the players’ skill levels. Both teams set a new high for the ’11 season in runs scored today.

The A’s held the lead for most of the game, but their pitching fell apart late allowing the Browns to climb right back into it. Jack Coombs, in his first bad start of the year, allowed 16 hits over 7 and 2/3 innings (the box score does not include earned runs, as this was considered a new-fangled stat at the time). Bender got the save on the anniversary of his 1910 no-hitter (the account of that game is worth a read). Saves didn’t exist as a stat yet, but this is the third game in a row in which an A’s pitcher recorded one, a rarity in the era of complete games (all three saves were recorded by regular starters). I may be wrong, but I believe this is also the first time this year the A’s have used three pitchers.

Tomorrow Eddie Plank goes for the sweep, and this time, Walter Johnson isn’t waiting in the wings to spoil it.

The A’s offense is really starting to click, as they’ve averaged 8 runs a game in the month of May. As of about a week ago**, the team led the AL with a .284 average, and Mack had three of his players in the top four: Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, and Danny Murphy, who were joined on the leaderboard by Ty Cobb in third place***.

* Though as we’ve discussed earlier, 1911’s scoring was actually on par with the modern era thanks to new cork-centered “lively” balls.

** Stats were always at least a week behind in the newspapers, presumably because they actually had to all be calculated by someone.

***Speaking of Cobb, here’s a crazy story from his game today, courtesy of’s “Today in Baseball” feature: “Against the Yankees at Bennett Park‚ Cobb scores a run from 1st on a short single to right‚ scores from 2B on a wild pitch‚ then doubles home two runs in the 7th to tie the game. When New York C Ed Sweeney vehemently argues the call at the plate‚ the rest of the infield gathers‚ leaving Cobb untended at 2B. With no time out called‚ Cobb strolls to third base‚ and then ambles in to observe the continuing argument. When he spots an opening in the circle of players‚ he quickly slides in with the go-ahead run. The Tigers win‚ 6-5.”

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