OAKLAND When A.J. Griffin missed low with a fastball on his first pitch to Tigers leadoff man Austin Jackson on Wednesday evening, the A's became the first team in major league history to start three rookie pitchers in a postseason.
That the A's would be doing something unprecedented was news to manager Bob Melvin before the game, if not surprising.
"Based on the fact that we had five (rookies in the rotation) there for a while, it was going to happen regardless," Melvin said.
Before Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone started Games 1 and 2 against the Tigers in this American League Division Series, the A's had started just two rookie pitchers in 147 previous playoff games.
The most recent was Barry Zito in Game 4 of the 2000 ALDS, an 11-1 A's win over the Yankees, who started Roger Clemens.
The other was Joe Bush in Game 3 of the 1913 World Series, which the Philadelphia A's won 8-2 en route to beating the New York Giants in five games.
Injuries to their pitching staff and the drug suspension of Bartolo Colon contributed to the A's sending a rookie to the mound in their final 14 games of the season.
That brought a deadpan response from outfielder Jonny Gomes, lamenting the end of the streak, when he was asked before Game 3 on Tuesday about veteran Brett Anderson returning from injury to start. Anderson was born three days after Griffin.
"We've had a number of rookie pitchers here, whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen, that we count on very heavily," Melvin said. "And feather in their cap that they're able to handle it."
Memoirs of a manager Tony La Russa, who managed the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series title last season and then resigned and took a position with Major League Baseball, also spent the past several months completing his recently released memoir, "One Last Strike."
The former A's manager, who lives in Walnut Creek, chatted about the book briefly while attending Game 3 at O.co Coliseum.
"It's not great writing," he said bluntly, "but I think the information is very good."
A large portion of the book chronicles his final (and successful) season.
Et cetera The 11 strikeouts by A's pitchers in their 2-0 win in Game 3 were the most the A's have recorded in a postseason shutout win, topping the previous high of nine that stood since the 1905 World Series, according to baseballreference.com.
An unflappable Parker, on being named the A's starter for Game 5 opposite 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander: "It's what makes this time of year great."
A month after defending his WBC/WBA super-middleweight titles via a technical knockout of Chad Dawson at Oracle Arena, boxer Andre Ward threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4. With Ward trying to hit the glove, for a change, he did.