A's Vault: Kouzmanoff preserves perfection for Braden 

March 11th, 2022

MLB.com is digging back into its massive video vault to uncover classic plays that you have loved, forgotten about or, perhaps, are discovering for the very first time. Watch these moments and many, many more on the MLB Vault YouTube page.

May 9, 2010: Kouzmanoff preserves perfection
Almost every no-no has at least one impressive play on defense that proved critical in achieving that feat. In the case of Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays, that important defensive highlight belonged to Kevin Kouzmanoff. With one out in the eighth, Kouzmanoff sprinted after a ball hit into the spacious foul ground of the Oakland Coliseum off the bat of Carlos Peña and hopped into the A’s dugout to make a nice catch on the run, retiring one of Tampa’s most dangerous hitters and preserving what went on to be an emotional perfect game thrown by Braden in front of his grandmother on Mother’s Day.

Oct. 13, 2006: A big league debut in the postseason
In need of an extra infielder on their playoff roster for the 2006 American League Championship Series due to injuries to starters Bobby Crosby and Mark Ellis, the A’s called upon an unlikely source in Mark Kiger. Having never played a Major League game prior, Kiger was thrust into action as a defensive replacement in Game 3 against the Tigers, becoming the first player in AL/NL history to make his Major League debut in the postseason. Though Kiger never got an official at-bat in the series and never made it back to the big leagues in his career, he remains a part of rare history as the only player to have played the entirety of his Major League career in the postseason. Since then, only four other players have made their big league debut in the postseason.

June 21, 2000: Chavez completes Coliseum's first cycle
The Oakland Coliseum had seen plenty of historic moments since the A’s moved into town in 1968, but three decades had passed without a player hitting a cycle there. That all changed on a summer night in 2000 with star third baseman Eric Chavez, whose cycle against the Orioles was the first recorded in the Coliseum’s history. Chavez doubled in his first at-bat, singled in his second, tripled in his third and capped it off with a homer to straightaway center off Orioles reliever Jose Mercedes. Upon his return to the dugout, Chavez was summoned for a curtain call by the Oakland faithful in what ended up as a 10-3 blowout win for the A’s. The 32-year wait at the Coliseum was the longest wait of any current ballpark in MLB for its first cycle. Since then, only one other player (Mark Ellis in 2007) has hit for the cycle in Oakland.

Sept. 26, 2002: Koch closes out AL West clincher
Billy Koch was a workhorse in 2002, so it was fitting that he was on the mound to close it out when the A’s clinched the American League West that year by notching their 100th win. In what was his 82nd relief appearance that season, Koch finished off the final two innings of a win over the Mariners, with a groundout of Ichiro Suzuki initiating the celebration. Koch finished the ‘02 campaign by pitching in a franchise record 84 games. That feat, along with 44 saves, earned him the Rolaids Relief Man Award and even garnered him a pair of seventh-place votes for AL MVP.

Oct. 7, 1989: Rickey homers twice in ALCS
The first thing most fans think about when it comes to Rickey Henderson is his speed and swiftness on the bases, but his power stroke is often overlooked. He reminded everyone of that power in Game 4 in the 1989 ALCS, slugging two home runs against the Blue Jays at SkyDome in a 6-5 victory that gave the A’s a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Rickey provided another memorable moment later that postseason by drilling a homer to lead off Game 4 of the World Series against the Giants.

Oct. 19, 1973: Hunter outduels Seaver in Game 6
It was an unenviable position for the A’s in the 1973 World Series. Not only did they go down 3-2 in the series against the Mets, but awaiting them in a must-win Game 6 was Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, winner of that year's National League Cy Young Award. Luckily for Oakland, it had its own Hall of Famer taking the mound in Catfish Hunter.

Engaging in a classic pitching duel at the Coliseum, it was Hunter who came out on top with 7 1/3 superb innings of one-run ball, besting Seaver’s seven-inning performance of two runs allowed. The A’s evened the series with a 3-1 victory in Game 6 and went on to capture their second consecutive World Series title with a 5-2 win in Game 7 that featured strong pitching performances from Ken Holtzman and Rollie Fingers, and key home runs by Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson.

Sept. 2, 2002: Tejada makes it 19 straight with walk-off
Scott Hatteberg’s walk-off homer to give the A’s their 20th win in a row received the big Hollywood moment in the “Moneyball” movie, however, that moment was set up by the heroics from star shortstop Miguel Tejada one game earlier. Facing an early 5-0 deficit against the Royals, Oakland rallied back and entered the ninth in a 6-6 tie. Tejada, who came to the plate against Jason Grimsley with the bases loaded, smacked a single up the middle that scored Greg Myers for consecutive win No. 19 of the streak, which sent the Coliseum faithful into a frenzy as the A's tied the record for the longest win streak in American League history that was held by the 1906 White Sox and 1947 Yankees. Tejada’s walk-off was also his second game-winning hit in as many days, having walked it off with a three-run homer off Twins closer Eddie Guardado the previous game.

June 8, 2008: Harden's immaculate inning
The flashes of dominance came often from Rich Harden before injuries started to take a toll on his career. One of those flashes came in 2008 against the Angels, when he opened up a start at the Coliseum with an immaculate first inning. Harden made quick work of Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick and Garret Anderson, recording three strikeouts -- all swinging -- on nine pitches. Harden’s immaculate inning was the first in the Oakland era and just the fourth in A’s history, joining Hall of Famers Lefty Grove (twice in 1928) and Rube Waddell (July 1, 1902 vs. Orioles).

Sept. 11, 2006: Big Hurt homers in six straight games
In the twilight of his Hall of Fame career, Frank Thomas signed with the A’s and put together an outstanding 2006 campaign at age 38. One of his many highlights that season came in September, when he homered in six straight games, setting an Oakland record for most consecutive games with a home run and surpassing the previous record of five shared by George Alusik, Dave Kingman and Matt Stairs. Thomas’ sixth long ball came in Minnesota, as he launched a solo shot off Twins starter Carlos Silva. Thomas finished with 39 homers that year and earned a fourth-place finish in American League MVP voting as the A’s reached the AL Championship Series.

Sept. 30, 2004: Crosby's walk-off ties AL West
Bobby Crosby racked up plenty of big hits during his impressive 2004 campaign that earned him American League Rookie of the Year honors, but none were bigger than his late September walk-off against the Mariners that year. At the plate with one out in a tie game, Crosby slugged a solo shot off reliever Scott Atchison to end the game, moving the A's into a tie with the Angels for first place in the AL West with only three games left in the regular season. The A's were eventually eliminated from playoff contention by the Halos in a series over the season's final weekend.