#Hot Corner

Too many leadoff home runs


Have you ever gotten up to get a hot dog between innings at a ball game only to find a longer line than you expected? And then, as you inch closer and closer to the counter, you realize that you aren't going to make it back to your seat in time for the first batter? It's the worst feeling, right? Especially when that first batter ends up doing something exciting like, say, hitting a home run?

Imagine what it must have been like to be a hungry fan at Minute Maid Park on October 2, 2004, when the Astros faced the Rockies. In that game, which Houston won 9-3, there were six different (half-)innings where the leadoff batter hit a home run. Six! That means that more than one-third of the game was spent disappointing some tired dad or some thirsty college kid who mistakenly thought he could make it back to his seat before anything interesting happened.

A quick rundown of the home runs:

  • Bottom of the 1st, Craig Biggio leads off the game for the Astros with a home run on the second pitch he sees.
  • Top of the 2nd, Vinny Castilla takes a 1-0 pitch from Roy Oswalt over the fence
  • Bottom of the 2nd, for the third half-inning in a row, a batter leads off with a home run, this one a line drive from Jeff Kent on a 2-1 pitch
  • Bottom of the 3rd, yet another leadoff home run from Craig Biggio
  • Bottom of the 4th, Shawn Estes gives up a leadoff home run for the fourth consecutive inning, this one to Eric Bruntlett
  • Top of the 8th, Jorge Piedra completes the effort

The six leadoff home runs are a record for any game in the Retrosheet era (from 1950-2012), though the Rockies/Astros game doesn't hold it alone. The record was first set in 1995 by the White Sox and Tigers at old Tiger Stadium. It was an old-fashioned slugfest, with the Sox eking out the 14-12 victory. Thanks to a terrible fourth inning from Detroit starter David Wells, this game may have been even more painful to anyone stuck waiting in line for a beer and a dog.

The rundown:

  • Bottom of the 1st, Chad Curtis gets things started for Detroit
  • Bottom of the 2nd, Chad Curtis does it again
  • Top of the 4th, with the score already 8-4 Detroit, Wells serves up back-to-back-to-back home runs to leadoff the inning. Ray Durham gets things started, followed by Ron Karkovice and Craig Grebeck. Wells leaves the game
  • Bottom of the 4th, Kirk Gibson helps get a run back for the Tigers
  • Top of the 6th, Frank Thomas ties the game up at 10-10
  • Bottom of the 6th, Kirk Gibson hits his second leadoff home run of the day to set the record

Overall, there were 12 home runs hit that Sunday afternoon, including multiple home runs from Gibson, Curtis, Karkovice, and Cecil Fielder.

There have been 18 games in the Retrosheet era with five different leadoff home runs, with the most recent being a May 2011 game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, including leadoff blasts from David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jose Bautista.

With my luck, the next time we see a six-leadoff-home-run day will be the day I get stuck buying drinks for everyone!

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