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Live Blogging: Mariners @ A’s Game 1

March 28, 2012

It is time for Major League Baseball! It is three in the morning, so it really isn’t time for anything but this is exciting stuff, Opening Day! Sacrifices must be made and rest is one of those sacrifices. The A’s and Mariners take each other on to begin the year again with the notable difference being that they are doing so underneath the roof of the Tokyo Dome. Brandon McCarthy takes on Felix Hernandez. The A’s lineup offers no surprises except that Eric Sogard is your Opening Day starter at third base. The batting order offers a few surprises, Yoenis Cespedes makes his MLB debut hitting seventh, Brandon Allen hits eighth, and the 3-4-5 is Coco Crisp, Seth Smith and Kurt Suzuki. This will be interesting. One change for this year, I am going to keep the posts chronological, so that you read them top to bottom as opposed to the past where I did it with the most recent stuff at the top. Also there is this intro paragraph. We’ll see how people like it. But again, my blog, my choice!

  • 3:08AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 0 out – McCarthy takes the mound for some warm up pitches. We are near ready to go! I wonder how partisan this crowd will be with Ichiro Suzuki starting for the Mariners.
  • 3:12AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 2 out – Ichiro gets a nice ovation. Good for him. Must be a big moment for him.
  • 3:15AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 2 out – Not sure why Justin Smoak swung there, Ichiro had second base stolen, and is Smoak someone to do a hit and run with? Not a smart play from Smoak. McCarthy really was paying Ichiro no attention either, which he needs to do. Ichiro is still a heck of a ballplayer, I expect a bounce back year from him.
  • 3:17AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 3 out – Nice hook there to get Smoak. Ichiro looks pumped, was running again. As always it is surreal that baseball is back! Perhaps this year more so than usual because it is three in the freaking morning.
  • 3:22AM PDT – Bottom of the 1st, 0 out – Jemile Weeks starts the A’s season off right with a solid base hit right back up the middle. Nice to get to Felix early, even if just for a hit. He is one of those guys that once he gets on a roll the psychology really seems to take effect that you feel you will never get a hit again. He is that tough.
  • 3:25AM PDT – Bottom of the 1st, 1 out – Weeks still is sliding too late and again nearly over slides the bag. That said, A’s nab their first stolen base of the season. Nice throw from Miguel Olivo but too late.
  • 3:28AM PDT – Bottom of the 1st, 3 out – Hernandez with a mean change up to get Smith swinging for strike three. One inning of baseball from Japan in the books! A’s leave Weeks stranded at second.
  • 3:32AM PDT – Top of the 2nd, 3 out – Very quick inning on the hill for McCarthy – just six pitches. Loved that Olivo took a pitch to start off the year. Think he’ll do that again in the next 161? Last year Olivo swung at 44% of first pitches, for perspectives sake the league average is 28%.
  • 3:38AM PDT – Bottom of the 2nd, 3 out – Quick inning for Hernandez too as he gets Cespedes to chase in his MLB debut. He didn’t seem to like the breaking stuff at all. Do like though that he was looking and running on the dropped third strike by Olivo. Lot of American guys realize it too late and half-ass it to first. Doesn’t seem fair to begin your MLB career against King Felix.
  • 3:42AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 0 out – Solid base hit for Michael Saunders. I think he is going to have a good year. He seems to have too much talent for the lack of production he has had over his career. It really is do or die time for him.
  • 3:43AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 0 out – Saunders with a stolen base. Good jump, but really nice (slightly high allowing him to get in) throw from Suzuki. Hope we don’t have to watch too many of his sliders to second from last year.
  • 3:44AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 1 out –  Great play by Cliff Pennington. Saunders gave that out to the A’s. Penny had no chance at first, so gets the fielder’s choice at third. Nice play by Sogard to to get down and apply the tag. Big out for Oakland.
  • 3:45AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 2 out – Zuk guns down Brendan Ryan trying to steal. Only two throws to second this year but all have looked good. No question on that, Ryan was caught on a perfect throw.
  • 3:48AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 3 out – McCarthy has it working 32 pitches, 22 for strikes. I remember all year last year I kept doing that
  • 3:53AM PDT – Bottom of the 3rd, 3 out – Felix is working it now. Another 1-2-3 inning and this game is rolling along. Four strikeouts for Hernandez through three innings the lone blemish the base hit to lead off to Weeks. Looks like yet another low-scoring A’s and M’s game. Wouldn’t have expected anything different. Also, it seems like this weird ROOT Sports girl is the only one actually in Japan. The broadcast crew of Dave Sims and Mike Blowers – not one of the more fun ones to listen to – is doing this game from a studio in Bellevue, Washington as per Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. Can’t be easy broadcasting like that, but their comment of “its three in the morning here!” made me suspicious, at first I thought they were just playing to the crowd in Seattle. But no, they’re up like us. Can’t spend a few bucks to send them to Tokyo? I guess I can’t speak, they didn’t send any of our guys there.
  • 3:57AM PDT – Top of the 4th, 0 out – Dustin Ackley just smoked one to center field for a home run to put the M’s up 1-0. No doubter. Ackley is a heck of a ballplayer, when they announced the due up at the top of the inning, and said “Ackley, Ichiro…” I was thinking, wait Ackley is hitting ninth? Hard to get used to Ichiro hitting third. Well with a lone run on the board, this is now Seattle’s game to lose. With Hernandez on the mound conceivably this is all they need.
  • 3:58AM PDT – Top of the 4th, 0 out – Second infield hit of the game for Ichiro deep in the hole to short. Nice debut for him in Japan.
  • 4:01AM PDT – Top of the 4th, 1 out – Ichiro was running again on a Smoak ground out. Apparently his moving to third isn’t going to slow him down. I suppose he’ll be held back with Ackley getting on quite a bit, but the Mariners are being very aggressive on the basepaths to start the 2012 campaign. Eric Wedge has a lot of speed to work with.
  • 4:05AM PDT – Bottom of the 4th, 0 out – Leadoff double for Pennington. Opportunity to get back a run.
  • 4:06AM PDT – Bottom of the 4th, 1 out – Don’t take too many pitches now. Coco grounds out on the first pitch of the at bat, third pitch he has seen tonight. I don’t like the “move him to third” style baseball but maybe it is a prudent thing against Hernandez.
  • 4:09AM PDT – Bottom of the 4th, 2 out – Double for Zuk (really awkward dive from Mike Carp). Two good throws, two home runs in the past two games. Maybe this year he really breaks out? Gotta love Opening Day when small sample sizes rule the day and you’re ready for everyone to be better based on a few outcomes. Double scores Pennington from third, A’s tie it up at one.
  • 4:13AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 0 out – Olivo gets to first on a throwing error by Sogard. Olivo practically ran that out. I think it should be ruled a hit really, a slow chopper that Sogard had to really come in on. Really surprised to Olivo get down the line so quickly.
  • 4:15AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 2 out – Patented 4-6-3 double play on Saunders helps pick Sogard up even though I feel he wasn’t responsible.
  • 4:20AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 0 out – Hit by pitch and Cespedes gets on for the first time in his MLB career. Remember you’re in Oakland now, its all about on base percentage!
  • 4:24AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 3 out – Hernandez is looking good, but is there ever a time that that isn’t true? He gets Weeks looking another great K, the one to Allen looking was on a great pitch too. Not sure what Weeks is upset about, can’t be with the call, or at least shouldn’t be. Good pitchers duel to start the season. My god is this game just humming along.
  • 4:30AM PDT – Top of the 6th, 1 out – Nice strikeout by McCarthy there to get Ackley, just the second of the game for him. Still a good outing. No walks.
  • 4:33AM PDT – Top of the 6th, 1 out – A third straight hit for Ichiro. First one out of the infield as it scoots up the middle on the Tokyo Dome’s carpet. Surprised they don’t have field turf or something that looks a bit better but they are kicking it old school 1980′s baseball at Japan’s premier venue (I assume it is given this is where they keep playing the games).
  • 4:36AM PDT – Top of the 6th, 3rd out – Jesus Montero grounds out to end the inning. McCarthy has the ground out pitch working 1 flyout to 12 groundouts. Through six he has allowed six hits including the Ackley home run which represents the lone run, and two K’s no walks.
  • 4:42AM PDT – Bottom of the 6th, 0 out – Pennington gets a stolen base not even drawing a throw from Olivo. Pennington needs to improve his success rate after it was a pathetic 60.9% last year. Great jump on that one, he really stole it off of Hernandez.
  • 4:45AM PDT – Bottom of the 6th, 1 out – Smith gets hit with the pitch on the ankle which puts the double play back on the board. Second HBP of the ballgame after he got Cespedes earlier, he had just seven all year last year. But, three of them all came in one start against Florida last June. With these views of the field maybe this is field turf? Tough to tell.
  • 4:50AM PDT – Bottom of the 6th, 3 out – The at-him ball from Josh Reddick to Carp in left saves Felix and preserves the tie. Head-to-head through six, Hernandez and McCarthy both are doing well with Felix having thrown 83 pitches to Brandon’s 73. Neither have issued walk, Hernandez has six strikeouts and just four hits allowed and has not allowed a ball to leave the park, but also has those two HBPs.
  • 4:57AM PDT – Top of the 7th, 3 out – McCarthy gets Saunders swinging to end the seventh, a nine pitch inning. Doesn’t seem like McCarthy has the strong “inverted W” this year as he had in years past. Maybe it is just camera angle but I know he is a tinkerer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was something he has tinkered with.
  • 5:00AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 0 out – Leadoff double for Cespedes for his first MLB hit. The Mariners were playing him to pull, if they played him straight up Saunders would’ve easily caught it but instead it is a double to right center field. Good to have a runner in scoring position to start off the inning. McCarthy’s pitch count is low so I imagine he could keep going, but it’d to get him a run and give him a win.
  • 5:01AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 1 out – Really? A bunt? From Allen? Not a great move by Bob Melvin, pretty awful call. Let’s leave it up to Sogard, that makes a ton of sense. If not clear, Allen didn’t successfully complete the bunt popping it up as can be expected on a Hernandez pitch.
  • 5:03AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Sogard robbed by Felix. Great defensive play. And again the A’s struggle with RISP hitting just 1-for-11 tonight.
  • 5:04AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 3 out – Make it 1-for-12 as Weeks grounds out. Bad inning. Would’ve liked to have seen what Allen could do, let him try and hit it to the right side, he is a pull hitter anyway. Wasted opportunity.
  • 5:06AM PDT – Top of the 8th, 0 out – I guess that’s all for McCarthy as Ryan Cook comes out. No bullpens in view at the Tokyo Dome so we had no idea he was even warming. Only 82 pitches from McCarthy, not sure why he couldn’t be left out there. Hernandez is at 91, it’ll be interesting to see how Wedge plays that. But this marks the first time in 2012, there were plenty in 2011 where McCarthy pitched well enough for the win but will fail to register one.
  • 5:11AM PDT – Top of the 8th, 3 out – Good inning of work from Cook. Wonder if Melvin now goes to the somewhat typical, one inning, one inning, one inning bullpen use. I’d hate to see Brian Fuentes used that way as Wedge has done a pretty good job of alternating the handedness of his hitters.
  • 5:18AM PDT – Bottom of the 8th, 3 out – Another 1-2-3 inning from Hernandez. Figure he probably is done after this as the pitch count is up to 104, though I am not a believer in pitch counts (to a degree) and Hernandez absolutely represents your best chance to win. If this is all, he went eight, K’d six, allowed five hits and the one run, while hitting two. Not a bad start to a season.
  • 5:21AM PDT – Top of the 9th, 0 out – Grant Balfour, the A’s new closer comes into the game for the top of the ninth with the save situation unavailable to them. Seems we will be doing the one inning thing for the bullpen. 3-4-5 hitters up for the M’s.
  • 5:25AM PDT – Top of the 9th, 2 out – Really nice place there by Allen and Weeks. Smoak’s grounder hit the bag and took a weird hop. Allen gave up on it and retreated so Weeks in better position could make the throw to first. Really nice little play there.
  • 5:29AM PDT – Bottom of the 9th, 0 out – Tom Wilhelmsen comes out to pitch for the M’s, so Hernandez another often sore luck pitcher who doesn’t get the deserved win is in the same boat as McCarthy. Suzuki, Reddick and Cespedes hope to send the A’s “home” winners in regulation time.
  • 5:31AM PDT – Bottom of the 9th, 1 out – Carp made a nice play going up to catch what could’ve been a Reddick double had he not gone up and got that one. Outfield walls are pretty high in Tokyo, Blowers says 13 feet though they seem higher.
  • 5:33AM PDT – Bottom of the 9th, 3 out – Cespedes is fooled by Wilhelmsen strike three, three outs. Free baseball. Some things never change: A’s and M’s can pitch, but can’t score!
  • 5:35AM PDT – Top of the 10th, 0 out – And here we go… Fuentes is up to face Carp (L), Olivo (R) and Saunders (L).
  • 5:39AM PDT – Top of the 10th, 2 out – Fuentes gets Olivo to ground to short. Crisis averted?
  • 5:40AM PDT – Top of the 10th, 3 out – Phew. Out of the inning unscathed. Surprised that Wedge didn’t elect to pinch hit for Saunders there with Casper Wells, but I am fine with the fact that he didn’t.
  • 5:44AM PDT – Bottom of the 10th, 0 out – Ackley with a terrible defensive play. First he muffs the play, then he throws a bad throw to first. Brandon Allen is on first now with the A’s winning run. Wilhelmsen still on the mound for the M’s.
  • 5:45AM PDT – Bottom of the 10th, 0 out – I am in favor of the bunt now with Sogard up. Melvin has elected to put Collin Cowgill on at first as the pinch runner so let’s get this one done.
  • 5:47AM PDT – Bottom of the 10th, 1 out – Wilhelmsen seemed really preoccupied with Cowgill which is good. I think that’s the most effective part of base stealing. But Cowgill goes out and gets caught stealing. Don’t understand why Melvin would opt to bunt with Allen but not with Sogard here. Really poor play calling.
  • 5:53AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 0 out – The A’s keep doing the one inning at a time thing with Andrew Carignan the new A’s hurler. Also in at first is Adam Rosales which is surprising, I would’ve figured Kila Ka’aihue would man first.
  • 5:55AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 0 out – Ryan with a double to lead off the eleventh. Let’s see if Wedge uses Chone Figgins to bunt over Ryan and get him to third where a sac fly can score him. Or will this game be an all around misuse of sacrifices?
  • 5:57AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 1 out – The M’s do sacrifice. Figgins nearly gets to first safely too. Carignan isn’t an easy guy to bunt on, I’d bet. A’s in a doozy now. Can’t see him because the pens are underground but I’d bet Brandon League is up.
  • 5:58AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 1 out – Single up the middle for Ackley and Ryan scores to give the M’s a late 2-1 lead. League ought to be on now.
  • 5:59AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 1 out – Melvin going out to switch pitchers. Really sort of a scorched earth policy here because the A’s have few arms left now as he will go get Jerry Blevins to face the lefty Ichiro. Wonder if the relievers feel more detached coming in with no MLB style bullpen? Because of the weird roster rules, the A’s do not have two starters (Tommy Milone and Tyson Ross) on their roster so they actually have three more guys available including Graham Godfrey who conceivably could go a few, so maybe the piecemeal bullpen usage isn’t so terrible.
  • 6:03AM PDT – Top of the 11th, 1 out – Another stolen base for the M’s. Ackley stole it, but another good throw from Suzuki which is encouraging. Looks like the Mariners will be running, running, running all year.
  • 6:05PM PDT – Top of the 11th, 2 out – Ichiro with a base hit that nearly decapitates Blevins, scores Ackley. The throw is cut off so Ichiro is out between first and second, but the M’s score which given the A’s troubles and given the fact that League is a very good pitcher doesn’t bode well for the A’s. Mariners up 3-1 now.
  • 6:08PM PDT – Bottom of the 11th, 0 out – League it is. The A’s throw out Pennington, Crisp and Smith to try and save the day.
  • 6:13PM PDT – Bottom of the 11th, 2 out – Wow. Smith nearly gets League on a hit straight back up the middle, goes between his face and glove. Yikes. Keeps the A’s alive, Suzuki represents the tying run at the plate.
  • 6:15PM PDT – Bottom of the 12th, 3 out – Make it eight straight – Opening Day losses that is as Suzuki strikes out to end it. The A’s own the worst record in baseball! I am going to bed.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. Drew W permalink
    March 28, 2012 3:02 pm

    I agree–the Allen bunt was a BRUTAL call, especially when he didn’t have Sogard bunt in the same situation (man on first, no outs) later in the game. What is he thinking? Good bunters have a hard time with Felix–too much movement.

    • March 28, 2012 4:15 pm

      Yeah, he is a guy who doesn’t bunt and shouldn’t. I don’t get why you make that decision against Felix – who as you note is very tough to bunt on – then don’t with Sogard. Inexplicable.

  2. March 28, 2012 6:17 pm

    Listening too that game was so painful. The A’s should have won it.

    • March 28, 2012 8:32 pm

      I actually disagree. I think the M’s should’ve won the game. If it weren’t for that key running error by Carp, the M’s would’ve had it sewn up earlier. That said both teams made stupid tactical decisions. It was in a way anyone’s ballgame.

      • March 29, 2012 12:08 am

        You’re a “cup’s half empty” kindofa guy

      • March 29, 2012 5:18 am

        No, I’m not. I just didn’t see any times where the A’s really put themselves in a position to win. Its tough to get to Hernandez and I think you start off at a disadvantage against him any time you face him.

  3. March 28, 2012 8:24 pm

    i cannot believe you woke up at 3 to listen to this game.

    actually, i cannot believe the a’s played at 3 am on opening day. it’s official: the fans are unimportant. it’s the money, honey, as they say.

    • March 28, 2012 8:34 pm

      That I did. I am currently somewhat tired. My REM cycle clearly was interrupted. The plan for tonight is to go to bed at nine. Wake up at two. Watch the game. Return to sleep at five. Wake up at 8:30.

      I think it is frustrating, you’d think they could’ve played a day game in Japan which would’ve made it like a west coast game back east for fans (10pm start). I think the interest still would’ve been there for people to skip work or school activities. The 3am start is rough, requires a lot of planning and still results in really feeling out of it. That said, I do like the idea of expanding the game’s reach internationally and Japan is the perfect venue.

  4. March 28, 2012 9:36 pm

    i guess i’m a nimby- let them expand to japan if they want- with someone else’s team. or like you said, play on a schedule that could reasonably include the home fans. or expand to a western hemisphere country, like any central or southern american country.

    or hell, play in oakland.

    • March 28, 2012 10:54 pm

      Yeah, I don’t mind the playing in Japan. But the 3am start is absurd. Day game in Japan equals late night game here. Works for all. But yeah def don’t want a permanent team in Japan! Maybe one day that’ll happen, and we can all take our space cars there to see them live.

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