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A's Open With A Whimper (Mine)

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Final Score: Angels 3, A's 0  boxscore

I'll say this - it was nice when the A's were down 2-0, then 3-0, to look at the lineup and know Oakland was still in the game. In fact only four days ago, the A's had erased a 3-0 lead against Tim Lincecum. But the "new and improved offense" will have to wait until at least game two of the regular season to score, as Joe Saunders and three relievers blanked the A's on just three hits.

The A's had a couple chances. With the score still 0-0 in the 3rd, Oakland had two on and just one out with Cabrera at the plate, when Mark Ellis and Ryan Sweeney attempted a double-steal; Ellis was thrown out at third base. I don't like giving away outs, but I do like that the A's mindset this year appears to be, "We won't just wait for offense to come to us - we'll also try to find and create runs and keep the defense honest." Except Ellis was gunned down, and then it doesn't look so good. In the 6th, Cabrera led off with a double, the A's third and final hit, but was trapped off of second on a grounder to SS. OK that's not aggressive, it's just stupid.

As for Dallas Braden, his changeup wasn't on tonight and as a result he did not get many swinging strikes, but I thought he pitched well for his 6 innings. His biggest mistake was an 0-2 changeup right over the plate to .195 career hitter Jeff Mathis leading off the 3rd, which touched off a 2-run rally. But the rally was a soft-liner RBI single by Howie Kendrick and then an infield hit by Vlad Guerrero that would have been an out had Orlando Cabrera gotten the throw to Nomar on just one hop - or had Nomar handled the two-hopper that was still in time to get Vlad. Kendrick HRed in the 5th for the Angels' third run, and Braden finished the evening with 6IP, 3 ER (1BB, 3 K).

Positives? I saw plenty. Chavez looked terrific, lining a single and driving two deep fly balls, along with making a fine stab of a liner at 3B. Andrew Bailey's major league debut was a success, a perfect 8th with a strikeout in which he displayed a plus-fastball and a pretty nasty slider.

And frankly, the Angels just underwhelm me. Saunders pitched a really solid game and the bullpen, which retired all 7 faced tonight, will be a strength, but their OF of Rivera and Abreu is going to keep Torii Hunter running until he drops, the lineup just doesn't look imposing, and their current rotation appears to me to be below-average.

I thought Saunders looked very good tonight while the Angels looked mediocre overall. And the A's looked bad tight young like they need Game 2 to start.