This is Part Six of a series endeavoring to cover an obscure or unusual event, occurrence, statistic, story, etc. from baseball history. If this all sounds new and exciting, be sure to check out parts one, two, three, four, and five.
The surprise of the spring for the Seattle Mariners, Tyler Olson cracked the major league roster out of camp after pitching twelve innings of scoreless ball in the Cactus League. He struck out fifteen hitters while allowing just eight baserunners, ultimately earning his place on the team as Seattle's second lefty out of the bullpen.
On Tuesday, Olson made his major league debut. I have to admit, I had a bit of a proud papa moment when he jogged in and threw his warmups: he's the first player to make the majors from the 2013 Everett club I worked with, and I was thrilled to see Olson get his shot to pitch in a big league game.
The anticipation was short lived. Olson entered with a runner on first and one out in the ninth and immediately induced a groundball off the bat of Erick Aybar. Kyle Seager had trouble gripping the ball initially but it was hit hard enough that the M's still had time to roll a 5-4-3 double play. Five seconds after his outing began, Olson was out of the inning. When the Mariners went down quietly in the ninth, Olson's final line was set: two-thirds of an inning on just one pitch.
While it's unusual for a pitcher to get two outs with his only pitch of the game, as you might imagine, it's exceedingly rare for someone to do so in his major league debut. It had never happened before in team history; in fact, Olson is the only Mariners pitcher to get two outs while facing one batter in his debut, regardless of how many pitches were thrown.
He might also be the only person in major league history to retire two hitters with his only pitch of his first career game. According to Baseball Reference's Play Index, there have only been sixteen pitchers in all of baseball history who got two outs while facing one batter in their debut. Of those, BR has pitch count data for ten, and of those, Olson is the only man who finished the game with just one pitch thrown. It's impossible to track down pitch count data for the other six, meaning that there's a very real chance that Olson's debut is unique in major league baseball. Not too shabby for an under-slot seventh round pick.
Last week, I asked how many African Americans played on the 2001 Mariners. The question spawned an interesting discussion about racial classification of Latin American players, but what I tried to ask was how many U.S.-born black players the Mariners rostered during that season. There were six: Mike Cameron, Mark McLemore, Al Martin, Charles Gipson, Arthur Rhodes, and Anthony Sanders. Congrats to those who remembered them all.
A year earlier, the Mariners swept Chicago in the ALDS. In the decisive game three, Carlos Guillen controversially won it for the M's with a squeeze bunt. Guillen's right foot was clearly touching the plate but the umpiring crew didn't notice and the play stood. This week's question: who scored the winning run?