A's Drop 8th Opening Day In a Row; Lose in Extras 3-1

Update: We've been heard somewhere:

From MLB Network PR:

MLB Network will air live the second game of the Japan Opening Series between the Mariners and Athletics tomorrow at 5AM Eastern, then re-air immediately after and again at 10pm ET/7pm PT. The game will be available live in the Oakland television territory.

So now, there isn't an excuse to watch. I thanked MLB Network profusely on behalf of Athletics Nation.

@MLBNetwork has shifted course and will air tomorrow's Oak-Sea game, the 2nd of the Japan series, live. Play begins at 5 AM ET/2 AM PT

EricFisherSBJ
The @MLBNetwork coverage of second A’s-Mariners game in Japan tomorrow that will be shown live indeed will be available in Oakland market.

First of all, I'd like to send a heartfelt "thank you" to Seattle's Root Sports for actually broadcasting Opening Day live at 3AM for its fans (and out-of-area A's fans). I cannot express my disgust for CSN Bay Area for not showing the game for Oakland fans. It's bad enough that our Opening Day (largely ignored by the general population) is held in another country at 3 in the morning, but adding insult to injury by not even letting fans watch the game live is just terrible. Disclaimer: I am always excited about bringing baseball to other countries, and it sounds like the Japan trip is a huge success. It was nice to see the fans out in force (45,000+), if not rooting for the A's. They would see Ichiro go 4 for 5, and they loved it.

We can't really blame this loss on Felix Hernandez; the A's had plenty of chances to score in today's game, and just didn't; wasting a fine pitching performance by Brandon McCarthy. The good news is that all the core pitchers pitched well (I don't consider Carignan or Blevins 'core'), and the defense didn't melt down. There's your silver lining.

Right before the game, Susan Slusser tweeted: Melvin says Josh Donaldson is the starting third baseman. "He's just not starting tonight."

I find this odd. You can't really name a player the everyday starter and then not start him…right? I get that it's Felix Hernandez, but if he's your starter, he's your starter for Opening Day. Nevertheless, Eric Sogard started at third today and batted ninth. He didn't really do a lot to dispute Donaldson's claim on the hot corner; he did have a hard hit back at Felix, he was unable to make a tough fielding play in the fifth, but redeemed himself with a sensational play in the eighth to get the leadoff batter.

If you missed the game and are looking for a detailed recap, it's after the jump.

The first three innings for both Felix Hernandez and Brandon McCarthy looked like something out of a baseball clinic. Despite getting Jemile Weeks on base to start the game, the A's just couldn't get him the stolen base until there was already an out recorded. Cliff Pennington probably would have liked to let him steal on his 3-1 count, but that was likely the best pitch he'd see in the at-bat. The A's stranded Jemile at third base, and wouldn't have another baserunner until the fourth. McCarthy would get out of an early jam thanks to a heads-up plays by Pennington; throwing a runner out at third, and Suzuki, throwing out a baserunner.

Brandon McCarthy was the first to blink in the contest, allowing a solo homerun to Dustin Ackley in the top of the fourth. But the A's answered with a leadoff double by Pennington in the bottom of the fourth; he was moved to third by a groundout by Coco. Seth Smith had his first RBI opportunity, but was unable to score the run; he grounded out to first. Luckily for the A's, the hot-hitting Kurt Suzuki was on deck, and he delivered a double out to left field, scoring the A's first--and only--run of 2012 to tie the game.

The Mariners got McCarthy into a small jam in the sixth inning after both Figgins and Ichiro singled, but McCarthy didn't allow a run to score. He was simply terrific in his seven innings today; Seattle seemed to be hitting nothing but ground balls. Likewise, Felix was Felix; the six strikeouts through five innings were a dead giveaway.

The A's squandered a golden scoring opportunity in the sixth. Cliff Pennington (who put together a heck of a game for himself with a deep fly ball, a double, and a single) singled to open the sixth, and stole second base, just for good measure, but the most impressive part was his absolute sheer hustle, getting to third base after a deep fly ball to left by Coco. Seth Smith came up with a chance for redemption, took the count 2-2, and was hit by the pitch (Felix' second HBP of the day). Kurt Suzuki did not repeat his previous heroics, he popped up to short left, and Pennington was unable to score. Reddick flew out to strand the runners at first and third. Felix or not, that run had to come home.

Yoenis Cespedes kicked off the seventh with a leadoff double (and it wasn't a fastball!), but was stranded there. After striking out twice in his two previous at-bats, Brandon Allen popped up a bunt. Not a banner day for him at the plate.

Ryan Cook took over for McCarthy in the eighth, and looked sharp in his outing, setting down the Mariners in order. McCarthy only threw 82 very economical pitches. The A's were stuck with Felix through the eighth; he pitched another scoreless inning. He definitely left the door open just a little bit for the A's in his outing; they just couldn't come up with more than the game-tying hit. All in all, both pitchers were fantastic.

Grant Balfour replaced Cook for the ninth, and combined with Weeks for a great play to get one of the outs in the inning, setting the stage for the bottom of the ninth, where the A's finally saw Felix exit the game. This would have been the perfect time for an A's walkoff; and send everyone back to bed happy, but despite a deep fly ball by Reddick, the A's went down yet again, and we headed to bonus baseball. What else would you expect from Opening Day?

Brian Fuentes came in for the A's in the 10th inning, and retired the Mariners in order. A Seattle error put Brandon Allen on base to lead off the tenth for the A's, but his pinch-runner, Cowgill, was thrown out attempting to steal second.

The A's had to win the game before their good relievers were out of the game , and they failed in that respect. Andrew Carignan would take the loss; after a leadoff double, a bunt, and a single plated the go-ahead run for the Mariners. He was yanked for Jerry Blevins, who just couldn't get the job done, allowing a stolen base and Ichiro's fourth hit to extend Seattle's lead. They both looked terrible. Seth Smith would get a two-out single in the ninth, but Suzuki would strike out to end the game.

Despite the loss, there is a lot to be said for this game compared to last year's Opening Day. The A's, for the most part, looked sharp on defense, and had many chances to win the game. They just didn't.

But maybe they will tomorrow; the game is at 2:00AM; Bartolo Colon vs. Jason Vargas.

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