Nick Markakis led off the bottom of the first inning in Baltimore today with a home run off of Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma (video). Chris Tillman made it stand up with seven strong innings, then new acquisition Andrew Miller and Zach Britton closed it out for a 1-0 Orioles win.
Markakis notched his 1,500th career hit in his next at bat, but let's focus on the homer. It's pretty unusual for a leadoff dinger to represent the only scoring of a game. Of the more than 130,000 games for which we have play-by-play data (over 92 percent of games played since 1940), there have been 3,306 games in which the scoring was opened with a leadoff home run. Only 18 of those stood as the game's only tally:
10 of them were hit in the top of the first and eight came in the bottom of the first. Note Willie Wilson's inside-the-parker in 1979. That's not surprising, since 13 of his 41 career round-trippers stayed in the yard.
Four of the 18 have been hit within the last two years. Run-scoring is plummeting, and while home runs are down as well, they haven't come down at the same rate. I still don't expect these games to happen very often, but they'll probably occur more often than we're used to.