The Arizona section of the Cactus League is over for the Oakland A’s, but there are still some spring exhibition games left on the schedule this month. In the wee hours of Sunday morning here in California, the A’s played their first of two contests against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, and Oakland emerged victorious by the score of 5-1.
The A’s opened the game by loading the bases, on a triple by Robbie Grossman and then a pair of walks. They only managed one run out of it, on an RBI groundout by Khris Davis, but that still gave them the early lead. They padded it in the 3rd with an extended rally for three more runs, featuring consecutive hits from Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Khrush, Stephen Piscotty, and Jurickson Profar. In the 9th, Profar doubled in another run to finish the scoring. While Khrush and Profar drove in most of the runs, Chapman led the way by reaching base in all five trips to the plate: a triple, two singles, and two walks.
On the other side of the ball, the A’s did a bullpen game, which means everyone got a final spring tuneup as well as some experience in Japan ahead of next week’s opener. There are seven relievers locked into spots in the eight-man MLB crew, and all of them pitched in this one — Hendriks, Soria, Trivino, Rodney, Buchter, Petit, and Treinen, with starter Montas for the final frame. Each of them pitched one inning, except for Petit who did two innings and allowed the Fighers’ only run in the 7th.
One extra tidbit: The A’s pitchers were throwing regular MLB baseballs, but the Fighters pitchers were throwing the slightly smaller balls used by the NPB, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. Of course, when Oakland faces the Mariners next week they’ll be using regular MLB balls.
And now, some video highlights! First up is Grossman’s leadoff triple.
Robbie Grossman leads off the game with a triple off the wall in right-center. pic.twitter.com/qQgI66QEcR— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 17, 2019
And also the three RBI hits from the 3rd-inning rally.
Something to watch out for this week against the Mariners.
Stephen Piscotty just fell victim to the funky roof here at the Tokyo Dome. Looked like he had a fly ball all the way and it dropped to the right of him at the last second.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 17, 2019
A’s wore some special St. Paddy’s Day hats.
The A’s St. Patrick’s Day hats - notice the double shamrock: one of them is very small on the MLB logo. Love it. pic.twitter.com/aZq7VypUDD— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 17, 2019
And some more sights and sounds, from the pregame first-pitch ceremony, to the crowd chanting “Let’s Go Oakland,” to the 7th-inning stretch, and then Khrush’s postgame interview.
Masanori Murakami, 74, threw out the ceremonial 1st pitch at A’s-Nippon Ham Fighters game. As #SFGiants reliever in ‘64, he was first Japanese player to play for MLB team. His quote tonight: pic.twitter.com/llnlCnfD6n— Daniel Brown (@BrownieAthletic) March 17, 2019
“Let’s Go Oakland” chants at Tokyo Dome: pic.twitter.com/8X4tGk1WhE— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 17, 2019
Seventh inning stretch, Japanese style. pic.twitter.com/Ft982fnpMF— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 17, 2019
Recaps from the beat writers who were present at the game:
Next game is tonight, at 8 p.m. Pacific Time! And then, the next time the A’s play after that, it will count in the standings.