The Oakland Athletics lost their spring training opener to the Los Angeles Angels 8-2, a game in which Halos' 1-2-3 starters Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun, and Mike Trout, went a combined 7-for-8 with a walk and scored the first five runs.
Marcus Semien looked good on both sides of the ball and had a big role in the A's two runs. He doubled off Garrett Richards to advance Yonder Alonso to third base, Alonso scored on a wild pitch advancing Semien to third, and Semien scored on Andrew Lambo's single to right.
Defensively, Semien looked smooth out there. One of the scenarios where Semien had a lot of errors in the first half last year was throwing the ball away when he had a lot of time to throw, as if thinking about it gave him the yips. Here, Semien threw a perfect strike to Yonder Alonso in the second inning to retire Yunel Escobar to finish the second. He also made a nice throw running away from second base to retire Daniel Nava at second in the third.
Khris Davis looked like he wanted to hit a home run today, and he pulled one ball that would have been way way gone if it hadn't been 20 feet foul. He had the green light on 3-0 in the fifth inning but could only pop out on the infield. Don't worry about it too much, Davis only had one home run in all of last spring training and still went on to a career-high 27 in the regular season.
Billy Burns hit a first pitch liner to start the game to just the wrong spot in the outfield, as Mike Trout made a ranging play to get to it.
The book on Chris Coghlan will be to let him hit into the shift, though ironically he put his first spring training ball in play to where the shortstop normally would be. Third baseman Yunel Escobar was there to throw out Coghlan.
Yonder Alonso worked a good walk after falling behind in the second inning to Garrett Richards, but was given a very generous infield single by the official scorer in the fourth inning. Yunel Escobar, radically shifted to the right side, bobbled the ball from the equivalent of deep second base but the scorer ruled that Alonso would have reached anyway.
Andrew Lambo enjoyed two well-hit singles today, the second a deflection off first baseman Jefry Marte.
If it's any consolation, all the runs were scored off pitchers unlikely to be on the 25-man roster at the end of spring training: Eric Surkamp, Ryan Doolittle, R.J. Alvarez, and Daniel Coulombe.
R.J. Alvarez particularly caught my attention, but in a bad way. His breaking ball stuff is still there, but he still was not locating his fastball. He ended up walking two and hitting Geovany Soto on the shoulder in his first outing.
Non-roster invitee Ryan Brasier was the only NRI to avoid getting scored upon. He allowed only a double to Rey Navarro and held him at second with a strikeout and a liner to right.
The good news is Marc Rzepczynski and Ryan Dull enjoyed scoreless innings. Rzepczynski had the only three-up-and-three-down inning (though against all substitutes). Dull's first two batters reached on not particularly hard hit singles, but he escaped second-and-third with one out by striking out Alex Yarbrough and Kaleb Cowart with some exceptional changeups.
Max Muncy and Chris Coghlan combined for a good 5-4-3 double play. Coghlan looked like he had played second base before (it was what he learned in the early minor leagues), though there was one diving play that went under Coghlan's glove that perhaps a more experienced second baseman would have gotten.
Renato Nunez had two plays of note at third base. The first was a very nice stop on a ground ball to his right, which enabled him to throw out Angels best name leader Jett Bandy in the sixth inning. However, Nunez's throw on the play was weak enough for me to question the viability of Nunez playing at third base.
Bandy moved slowly (he's a catcher when he's not the designated hitter) and so a maximum effort wasn't needed, but Nunez later threw weakly on another throw in the eighth inning that allowed the runner to reach on an infield single. Nunez would have done better on that eighth inning play if he had come into the ball instead of staying back to field in a long hop, but a stronger arm would have made up for that decision. Looking back at my Arizona Fall League notes, his arm was a big question mark for me then, too.
Chad Pinder had a rough day and was charged with the game's only official error after he allowed the eighth inning to continue by letting a ball go between his legs and into left field. I'll chalk that up to the afternoon Tempe sun, as he completed a heads up 9-6-2 relay from Jake Smolinski on the next batter after Quintin Berry tried to score from first on a double to right.
Tomorrow the A's split their squad between their home opener at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa and on the road at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
At home, the A's play the Colorado Rockies with top pitching prospect Sean Manaea starting the game. That game will be broadcast on the free MLB.com webcast. First pitch is at 12:05 PM Pacific Standard Time.
On the road, the A's face the Arizona Diamondbacks with Felix Doubront starting against Zack Greinke. That game is the only A's game not being broadcast in any form, though Salt River Fields does have Pitch F/X installed, so it should be possible to follow the game pitch-by-pitch there. First pitch of that contest is at 12:10 PM Pacific Standard Time.
But from Tempe Diablo Stadium, the final score in Oakland's Cactus League opener, the Angels 8, the A's 2.