White Sox 4, Athletics 3
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ It didn’t take long for Frank Thomas to make his mark on the new and still evolving Oakland Coliseum.
Thomas hit a two-run homer that disappeared into scaffolding surrounding the ongoing Coliseum construction, and the Chicago White Sox beat Oakland 4-3 Friday night, spoiling the Athletics’ delayed home opener.
``This stadium will be a thing of beauty when it’s done,″ said Thomas, who believes the new bowl-like configuration will reduce wind and make it more of a hitter’s park.
``This place has been a dungeon to hit in,″ said Thomas, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. ``It’s the kind of place you want to play in the day because at night the ball didn’t carry. With the new sky boxes there’s a new flavor to it. Balls in the gap just might go now. Before balls would get knocked down (by winds).″
The game drew a crowd of 31,320 to the stadium which has a capacity of just under 40,000 because of the renovations, much of them football-driven with the return of the Raiders from Los Angeles.
To mark the occasion, the A’s handed out hard hats to fans attending the game and a representative from Tutor-Saliba, the project contractor, was among four people throwing out ceremonial first pitches.
The A’s became the last team in the major leagues to play at its home stadium. Oakland spent the first 18 days away from the Coliseum, including playing its first six ``home″ games in Las Vegas because of the $100 million stadium construction project.
Wilson Alvarez had to leave the game with one out in the sixth due to soreness in his left elbow. White Sox manager Terry Bevington said Alvarez experienced a flare up of tendinitis.
``We plan on him making his next start,″ Bevington said.
John Briscoe (0-1) came on in the eighth in relief of Ariel Prieto and gave up a single to Ray Durham. Thomas followed with a homer, his sixth, driving a 1-0 pitch into the maze of scaffolding surrounding the Coliseum’s new three-deck eastern addition.
``I tried to throw him a fastball away, but it tailed back over the plate and he smoked it,″ Briscoe said. ``I think that ball would have gone out of any ballpark on the planet.″
Matt Karchner (3-0), the fourth White Sox pitcher, went 1 1-3 innings for the victory. Roberto Hernandez got three outs for his fourth save.
Oakland had taken a 3-2 lead on Scott Brosius’ two-run homer in the sixth.
``It was well-played game. We had our chances,″ Brosius said. ``It would have been nice to top off a good crowd with a win.″
Mike Bordick had the A’s first hit when he led off the third with a homer to tie it 1-1.
The White Sox opened the scoring in the first when Durham hit a one-out triple off the newly installed 15-foot fence in left center 388 feet away, and Thomas followed with a sacrifice fly. Danny Tartabull had an RBI double in the sixth.
The game was delayed briefly in the bottom of the eighth when three people ran onto the field from the stands. There was no immediate reaction from security. One fan went back into the stands on his own and the other two were told by players and umpires to get off field.
Sandy Alderson, general manager of the A’s, hustled from the press box to the field level to try to make sure no one else ventured onto the field.
``Somebody had to show up,″ he said.
Asked what happened to stadium security personnel, Alderson said: ``I don’t know, but we’ll find out. Guys just didn’t react.″
Notes: First baseman Jason Giambi was a late scratch from the A’s lineup due to the flu. ... The White Sox have hit a homer in 14 of 15 games...The A’s bullpen is the only one in the major league’s without a save.