(Camelback Ranch - Glendale, Arizona) – The 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four will take place just down the street from Camelback Ranch at the University of Phoenix stadium next weekend. Thanks to Matt Chapman, it looked like championship caliber play arrived in the neighborhood a weekend earlier than expected in the A's 1st inning. Chapman blasted a three run homer off former A's lefty, Rich Hill, to put the green and gold up early. Unfortunately things unraveled for Jesse Hahn and the crew from there, as back to back homers by Andrew Toles (Grand Slam) and Justin Turner in the 4th put the Dodgers ahead for good and put Hahn's opening day rotation spot in serious jeopardy.
There were moments today when it looked like the A’s could beat anyone with one arm tied behind their back (or with half their roster playing somewhere else):
1. In the top of the 1st inning, the A's jumped on Rich "Walk or Strikeout" Hill for 3 runs, courtesy of a Matt Chapman bomb. Patient at-bats from Ryon Healy and Alejandro De Aza preceded the home run and were a good sign for the A's who have been emphasizing taking more pitches and getting on base this spring.
2. Jesse Hahn never looked comfortable in this one as he pitched with runners on most of his outing, but Hahn did punch out Yusiel Puig twice and worked out of trouble in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. He might not start the season with the club, but the A's will need him in 2017.
3. Josh Rodriguez came to play today! Who is Josh Rodriguez you may ask? He is a journey man infielder in his 11th season in professional baseball with 11 major league at-bats and 100+ minor league home runs...Rodriguez homered and singled twice in the ballgame today and with the A's, if you produce, you will get a chance, so you never know if we might see the veteran utility man at some point this season.
Speaking of having one arm tied behind their back, can we all agree that the 1987 movie, "Over the Top" is one of Sylvester Stallone’s best movies ever?!
There were also moments today when you realized the A’s left half their team at home:
1. 3 wild pitches, bad reads on flyballs (ie. Parmelee), errors from Chapman and Healy, the A's looked sloppy.
2. If you know who Tyler Ramirez, Mikey White, Edwin Diaz and Melvin Mercedes are (and you aren't related to them), I give you major props...These 4 guys all played for the A's today.
3. Thirty two year old, non-roster reliever, Cesar Valdez, took one for the team and pitched the final 3 innings in this blowout. He pitched well (3 ip, unearned run, 2 strikeouts). I believe I spotted Max Muncy (the next Sean Doolittle?) warming up in the bullpen just in case.
Speaking of leaving half their team at home, can we all agree "Home Alone 3" is in the conversation for worst sequel ever?
Players from today's game you might see making an impact when the A’s and Dodgers renew their interleague rivalry in 2018:
1. Matt Chapman (3B) - I sure hope he is starting for the A's next season, I would love to see he and Khris Davis battle for the MLB home run crown.
2. Sean Murphy (C) - The 2016 3rd round pick of the A's (Wright St.) is already big league ready to catch. Today he knocked a double and single in two at-bats an encouraging sign for a guy known for his glove, not his bat.
3. Lazarito (DH/OF) - This game will be remembered as the game Lazaro Robersy Armenteros (who was born in 1999!) debuted in a major league uniform (albeit spring training). This 17 year old kid will be brought along slowly, most likely staying in the Dominican Republic this summer to train at the A's D.R. complex, but you never know...he is a 5 tool player and if the timing is right, is there a slight chance we could see him in 2018?!!
Speaking of inter-league rivalries, can we all agree Dodgers fans are annoying? Next time you run into one, share this stat with them: The A’s are 11-2 at home against the Dodgers since inter-league play began in 1997.
Countdown to Opening Day: Only 9 more sleeps until opening day!
Have a great rest of your weekend A's nation!