Recap: A’s @ (Yomiuri) Giants Japanese Exhibition Game 1
I want to get into this game, but first I want to issue a complaint to Major League Baseball. I don’t know if Major League Baseball and heck, I will throw in CSNCalifornia too, read this blog. I know people from the A’s have, but who knows how regularly so this comment and complaint will likely fall upon deaf ears but… The MLBNetwork broadcasts Caribbean Series games, countless networks cover the ping of college baseball. Japanese networks cover NPB games. Why was it not possible to get television for this game for A’s fans? While I realize the purpose of this trip quite parasitic in the sense that it advances MLB in Japan and the intent isn’t to expose American audiences to NPB baseball, why not? Shoot, even put up a feed entirely in Japanese with no subtitles. When I watch a game I know what’s going on, I can figure out that the Japanese do things differently, I won’t be confused as to what is happening when I see a 2-3 count, it’ll take what, three batters for people to figure out they invert things? We subscribe to MLB.tv, we get cable packages that include the MLBNetwork to watch and consume baseball. What other product puts up so many obstacles to consumption of what the customer wants? Car dealerships work to finance you, even if it isn’t in your best interests as do mortgage companies. Supermarkets have baggers, people to wheel stuff out to your car for you and often are open 24 hours should you feel the desire to buy pears and springtime Oreos at 3:23 am. Gas stations provide fast acting pumps, you don’t need to siphon gasoline into your car and they are available on virtually every major intersection. Why does baseball have territorial maps that black out games you can’t possibly watch? Choose not broadcast things fans want to see, even if it is just piggybacking on another broadcast as they do with most if not all of their spring training coverage? Not hard people. Onto the game which was a 5-0 win, the Mariners it should be noted lost to the Hanshin Tigers who the A’s play next. Good to see that the A’s can dominate an NPB team, we are after all supposed to be the best of all the baseball leagues, sort of sad that the Mariners can’t do the same, lest I speak too soon as we do play the Tigers tomorrow.
- The lineup Bob Melvin used today, and the style of play, was really that of a regular season game not a Cactus League exhibition. The A’s didn’t suddenly throw in all these reserves, though with a 30-man roster that would’ve been somewhat limited, and most of the starting nine played the entire game. I think this is a good bet to be what we should expect this year. The lineup being: Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, Coco Crisp, Seth Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Kurt Suzuki, Brandon Allen and Josh Donaldson. Though still not official, I think Donaldson has won the job at third, for what it is worth he went 1-for-4. I also like that Cespedes is hitting fifth and not fourth, enough pressure is already on this kid. The very limited box score I could find for this game doesn’t indicate exactly when subs were made (Jonny Gomes pinch hit for Smith, while Collin Cowgill was a defensive replacement in center) but I have to assume that Gomes came into hit for Smith once a lefty was put in which is interesting since Billy Beane, and I believe Bob Melvin too said they would be hitting Smith regardless of the handedness of the opposing pitcher. Guess that, like Crisp playing center, is no longer true.
- The story of this game really was the pitching for Oakland. Tommy Milone got the start, allowed two hits (the only two hits the Giants would manage) and struck out seven while walking none in his five innings of work. Then the A’s went to the pen where Ryan Cook, Brian Fuentes, Jordan Norberto and Grant Balfour all pitched hit and walk-free innings each. Fuentes notched one K, while Norberto notched two. Norberto’s control is much improved and I have to think the Japanese aren’t going to go up hacking, so this continues an impressive start from the spring. Could this guy reduce his walks by about 2/3’s? Going from nine-plus BB/9 to something in the neighborhood of three?
- On the hitting side of the ledger, Kurt Suzuki hit a home run off of the decidedly not Japanese Levi Romero (he is Venezuelan and formerly a farm hand of both the Astros and Rangers). Another player who some people may be familiar with playing for the Yomiuri Giants is former San Francisco Giant John Bowker who went 0-for-4.
- The two Japanese hits came from Shuichi Murata and Takayuki Terauchi. Terauchi isn’t much of a ballplayer, with a career .202/.241/.254 slash line in his career, but Murata is one of Japan’s best power hitters and after spending his entire career with the Yokohama Bay Stars, this year will be his first with the Giants. Though he has played since 2003, the only stats I can find are from 2006 on (why are NPB stats so tough to find?) and since then he has a .278/.348/.522 slash line with 153 home runs in 2,747 plate appearances.