A couple of weeks ago, our blogfather Nico posted a proposition that suggested that Stephen Vogt may be the "odd man out" come Opening Day. Now I don't know if Stephen Vogt is lurking around AN on his off days, but if he is and if his performance this spring is anything to go by (.395/.452/.737, with 3 HRs and 12 RBIs), I think he MIGHT have taken some offense to that article.
That certainly showed today as Vogt strengthened his case for a spot on the Opening Day roster with a pair of two-run homers that helped led the A's to a back-and-forth, 6-5 win over a split-squad Seattle Mariners at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The game may have started off with an ominous note as the A's found themselves in an early 0-2 hole in the 1st inning with no outs. Scott Kazmir, who gave A's fans everywhere a scare after being scratched from his last start due to tightness in his triceps, looked shaky to start off in his return to the mound, giving up four hits and two runs within the first four batters faced. After getting Michael Saunders to fly out to center to record the first out of the game, Kazmir would end up walking D.J. Peterson to load the bases for the Mariners, who were now posed to open the flood gates and perhaps send Kazmir on an early trip to the showers.
However, Kazmir would keep those gates closed, ending the rocky inning and getting out of the jam on a strong note with two consecutive strikeouts. From there, Kazmir would settle down and return to form, putting on an impressive outing the rest of the way by retiring 12 of his last 14 batters faced, and recording 5 strikeouts on 72 pitches in 4.1 innings of work.
The A's would get on the board in the 2nd via some Oakland-patented smallball lawyerballin', tying the game at 2-2 after a Matt Garza Bundt Cake Special baked up from the A's resident Keebler Elf, and a bases-loaded walk. The A's would then take the lead in the 3rd following the first of Stephen Vogt's 2-run ballots - a line drive shot to right field - bringing the score to 4-2.
In the 5th, with the Mariners' Nick Franklin on first and one out, Dan Otero would come in to relieve Scott Kazmir and proceed to have his own rocky start. A wild pitch and errant throw by Derek Norris allowed Franklin to advance to 3rd, setting up Stefen Romero to plate him on an infield groundball single. Seattle would take a 5-4 lead on the next batter, as Otero gave up a fly ball, 2-run homer to Logan Morrison.
That lead would be short-lived, however, as Stephen Vogt punched his second 2-run ticket of the day off of Scott Baker in the following half of the 5th, ending his rough day (six earned runs on seven hits with six walks) and reclaiming a 6-5 lead for the A's. That score would remain for the final four frames, which saw garbage time for the likes of Hiro Nakajima, Jake Goebbert, and Tyler Ladendorf for the A's.
Other notable mentions from today:
- Billy Burns continues to impress and make quite a name for himself. He drew one walk, two hits - one of which a lead-off, stand-up triple in the 1st - and stole his 10th base of the spring.
- Yoenis Cespedes, Craig Gentry, and Ryan Cook all spent time today playing minor league ball. Their performance today, courtesy of A's beat writers...
A double, a walk in last 2 minor league ABs for Yoenis Cespedes. Athletics&src=hash">#Athletics mgr Bob Melvin said he heard Cespedes got angry after 1st 2 ABs.— John Hickey (@JHickey3) March 22, 2014
Gentry played in the same game and got a couple hits. Melvin said "everything went well with him."— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 22, 2014
Ryan Cook threw 17 pitches in minor league game, got four outs including two by strikeout. Also got a double play. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 22, 2014
Though it may still be unlikely that Vogt makes the Opening Day roster due the technicalities of managing said roster (he still has options), at least its good to know that the A's are at an excellent place right now when it comes to catcher depth. Likewise with Kazmir's strong performance (shaky start not withstanding) today, we can all breath a small sign of relief knowing that that "minor triceps tightness" wasn't something to be too scared about... for now.
Tomorrow, the A's will play split-squad games at home against the Cubs, and in Peoria against a full-squad Mariners team. On to the mound for the A's will be Jesse Chavez, the former long-man-in-the-bullpen-now-suddenly turned-starter, and Josh Lindblom, respectively.
Until then, enjoy the win and go A's!