|A's hosting White Sox on "Free Baseball" night|
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics are expecting a capacity crowd on "Free Baseball" night at the Oakland Coliseum when they host the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
The unique promotion was created to celebrate the A's first game in Oakland, which was held exactly 50 years ago in 1968 against the Baltimore Orioles.
The A's have announced that they received 200,000 ticket requests and have pulled the tarps from the Mt. Davis section of the bleachers to help accommodate some of the overflow interest. The stadium's listed capacity for baseball is 47,170, but with standing-room-only, a crowd close to 60,000 is expected.
The A's, having drawn three crowds of less than 10,000 on their season-opening homestand, began the week ranked last in the American League and second-to-last in all of baseball in attendance with a 15,212 average. Only the Miami Marlins were lower at 13,171.
The White Sox, meanwhile, began the week with the lowest average road attendance in baseball at 17,737.
The two teams drew just 7,479 for Monday's series opener on a night when the Golden State Warriors were hosting the San Antonio Spurs concurrently in an NBA playoff game next door.
Daniel Mengden pitched eight strong innings in an 8-1 A's win.
Having moved west from Kansas City, the A's and Orioles attracted 50,164 to the Oakland opener in the same building in 1968. Dave McNally outdueled Lew Krausse that day, with Rick Monday accounting for one of the A's two hits off the Baltimore left-hander with a home run.
Boog Powell (no relation to the A's current Boog Powell), Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson homered for the Orioles on the historic night.
A's second baseman Jed Lowrie is looking forward to the experience.
"It will be a fun environment, and lot of those guys will get to play in front of a big crowd probably for the first time," he envisioned. "Everyone wants to play in front of a full house, but that's not the reality all the time."
The A's have reached into their All-Star past for the game's starting pitcher, promoting Trevor Cahill from Triple-A Nashville.
The 2010 All-Star pitched three seasons for the A's, but then spent the past six years in four other organizations before deciding to return to Oakland this season.
The right-hander began the season in the minors, where he made two starts.
Cahill has faced the White Sox 12 times in his career, nine times as the starting pitcher. He went 1-3 with a 4.21 ERA in those games.
The White Sox will counter with right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who has never won in Oakland, going 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in two starts.
He's 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA overall against the A's in six meetings, including five starts.
With the White Sox having been rained out three times last week in Minnesota, Gonzalez hasn't pitched in eight days.
That kind of lengthy rest seemed to help young right-hander Reynaldo Lopez in the series opener. He struck out 10 and allowed only two runs in six impressive innings, only to be outdueled by Mengden.
Gonzalez hasn't seen the sixth inning in either of his first two starts, allowing 16 hits and 10 runs (nine earned) in 9 1/3 innings.