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Live Blogging: Mariners @ A’s Game 2

March 29, 2012

The A’s and M’s hook up again for their second of two games from the Tokyo Dome to open the 2012 season. Both teams have really struggled offensively lately, and so far 2012 is no different as the victorious M’s have a combined .231/.231/.333 slash line while Oakland’s is even worse at .154/.195/.231 . One roster change from yesterday is that the Mariners had to place Mike Carp (sprained shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list after he injured himself making what I thought was an ill-advised dive on Kurt Suzuki‘s double – Carlos Peguero replaces him on the M’s roster. For the A’s, the lineup looks a little different against the left-handed starter Jason Vargas as Jonny Gomes hits in the cleanup spot (not a surprise that he and Seth Smith are platooning), Yoenis Cespedes hits sixth, Josh Donaldson whom Bob Melvin named as the starting third baseman for the season – though he didn’t start Opening Day – hits eighth and then strangely Kila Ka’aihue hits ninth and plays first. Bartolo Colon makes his first start of the year for Oakland.

  • 2:07AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 2 out – Dustin Ackley, who leads MLB in home runs, strikes out. Nice pitch from Colon.
  • 2:09AM PDT – Top of the 1st, 3 out – Quick and efficient inning for Colon. 10 pitches, eight for strikes as he gets Ichiro Suzuki, who leads MLB in batting, to bounce out to Jemile Weeks at second.
  • 2:14AM PDT – Bottom of the 1st, 1 out – Cliff Pennington gets a nice hit straight up the middle off of Vargas. Nice little piece of hitting there. It’ll be interesting to see if the A’s are aggressive and go out and try to swipe a base and put Miguel Olivo to work early.
  • 2:19AM PDT – Bottom of the 1st, 3 out – Vargas isn’t as efficient as Colon but sticks around the strike zone even more as he gets through the A’s half of the inning with 15 pitches, 13 of them strikes.
  • 2:22AM PDT – Top of the 2nd, 2 out – Colon with another K as he gets Jesus Montero looking. Good start for Colon thus far, pitching though hasn’t been Oakland’s problem as of late. Its more a matter of needing to get base hits.
  • 2:23AM PDT – Top of the 2nd, 3 out – I thought yesterday’s game was going fast, today’s so far is off to a lightening speed beginning as Colon gets through the M’s side with just an additional seven pitches, six for strikes.
  • 2:29AM PDT – Bottom of the 2nd, 3 out – Nine pitches, seven for strikes for Vargas in the 2nd. Just going through these lineups like a hot knife through butter are both the starters tonight. Josh Reddick, hit the ball well to Justin Smoak who was positioned perfectly. Yesterday he had some hits that on another day would’ve fallen too. It all evens out by the end of the year right?
  • 2:32AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 1 out – The A’s need a good defensive season from Weeks and that was a nice play getting it in foul territory, pretty far down the right field line to send Olivo back to the bench. Not an easy play as the roof at the Tokyo Dome is the same sort as the Metrodome was in Minneapolis so it can be tough to pick up the ball against it. Really went far to get that one, nice play.
  • 2:35AM PDT – Top of the 3rd, 3 out – Colon is perfect through three all on just 28 pitches (23 for strikes). Can’t imagine he keeps up this pace and finishes this with a complete game on 84 pitches, but this is good after the A’s used a good chunk of their bullpen in last night’s contest
  • 2:38AM PDT – Bottom of the 3rd, 1 out – Donaldson bounces out to Smoak. Still find it strange that he has been named the starter, yet didn’t get the Opening Day start. But I think that is the right move, after a year (yes, admittedly not much to work with) of strange managerial decisions thus far, this is about par for the course.
  • 2:44AM PDT – Bottom of the 3rd, 3 out – Vargas looks good after getting Weeks after the ballgame’s first full count for him. 37 pitches for Vargas whose lone mistake is the Pennington single in the first.
  • 2:47AM PDT – Top of the 4th, 1 out – That is why they call it the hot corner. Nice play by Donaldson there on a sharp hit by Chone Figgins. I’ve long thought Donaldson can be a productive MLB player. I was impressed with what I saw of him defensively in Phoenix and that was a nice play there on the bigger stage.
  • 2:49AM PDT – Top of the 4th, 3 out – Ichiro is set down on strikes by Colon all of his strikeouts have been looking. Still perfect through four on only 35 pitches (29 for strikes), fewer pitches than Vargas has thrown in one fewer innings pitched.
  • 2:55AM PDT – Bottom of the 4th, 3 out – Vargas gets Gomes swinging. Vargas is perfect save for one hit to Pennington, Colon is perfect. Man these teams can’t swing the bat. I know we talk about it year after year but when will these two clubs get some offense. Great outings for Vargas (whom I think is really underrated as a pitcher, I know his FIP at 4.09 was a bit high last year and he doesn’t put up good K/9 rates which I like to see, but I think he is crafty and smart and think he can piece it together) and Colon.
  • 2:58AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 1 out – Another great play by Weeks to range far to his right, slide, get up and get Smoak at first. Ka’aihue nearly screwed it up with his foot off the base, but a good defensive outing for Weeks thus far.
  • 3:00AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 1 out – Montero breaks through with a base hit on the right side, so perfect Colon is no more. Funny how given how poorly these teams have hit, both pitchers now are relatively equal in their performance.
  • 3:03AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 2 out – Olivo gets the M’s second hit. Chopped up the middle. Seemed like Pennington would be able to get it but it just kept bouncing and bouncing, that was probably a turf aided base hit right there. Can’t stand the turf, and I commented yesterday that the Tokyo Dome’s seems tougher than the few MLB parks that still have it, but it is indeed Field Turf so who knows. The shoulder injury to Carp was blamed – at least by the M’s broadcast crew – on the hard turf.
  • 3:06AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 2 out – First walk of 2012. Unfortunately for A’s fans it is by Colon who loses Michael Saunders which loads up the bases for the M’s and Brendan Ryan.
  • 3:07AM PDT – Top of the 5th, 3 out – A’s escape danger as Ryan grounds into the 6-4 out. Half way through at its only been an hour.
  • 3:11AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 1 out – One Suzuki (Kurt), lines out to another (Ichiro). Don’t think he needed the leap did he? A little showboating for the homeland crowd?
  • 3:13AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 2 out – Cespedes was way ahead of the change up from Vargas to strike out. It seems the offspeed stuff is giving him the most trouble thus far as he struggled against it last night to against Felix Hernandez and Tom Wilhelmsen as well. I think he’ll being seeing a steady diet of it until he can show he can either lay off it or hit it.
  • 3:15AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 2 out – Reddick doubles to right. Tough pitch he turned around there. A’s have someone in scoring position (finally!). Time to make something happen.
  • 3:17AM PDT – Bottom of the 5th, 3 out – Donaldson grounds to his counterpart at third, Kyle Seager and the M’s get out of the inning. Still all knotted up at zero. It is breathtaking just how much trouble these two teams have hitting. The teams last year in their 19 games averaged a combined 6.7 runs a game when they squared off, 3.7 for Oakland to 2.9 for Seattle.
  • 3:24AM PDT – Top of the 6th, 3 out – Still no score. Colon’s pitch count at 65 (48 for strikes) is still very impressive and also still less than Vargas’ (68) despite the extra inning of work.
  • 3:28AM PDT – Bottom of the 6th, 1 out – Four pitch walk to Weeks. Good opportunity for the A’s here, wonder if Melvin sends the runner to make something happen.
  • 3:29AM PDT – Bottom of the 6th, 2 out – He does and Olivo nails him. Again, another very late slide from Weeks, someone has to remedy that.
  • 3:34AM PDT – Top of the 7th, 0 out – Dave Sims and Mike Blowers call it. Smoak with an opposite field home run to the first couple rows above the left field fence. Mariners take the lead 1-0.
  • 3:38AM PDT – Top of the 7th, 3 out – Colon recovers from allowing the solo shot to get the next three. Still a good outing at seven innings, with just three hits including the HR, a walk and five K’s. But it is amazing how with no offense it suddenly doesn’t look as great as it would if the A’s say had five runs right now.
  • 3:42AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 0 out – Leadoff walk to Coco Crisp. This is a key chance for the A’s to get that run back.
  • 3:43AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 0 out – Crisp nearly gets picked off! Wow that was close.
  • 3:48AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 1 out – Surprised that Eric Wedge is taking out Vargas. Pitch count was low (85) and the A’s do have a number of right-handed hitters due up in Suzuki and Cespedes but is that enough of a reason to put Shawn Kelley in? After all Suzuki and Cespedes are a combined 0-for-4 with a K off Vargas tonight. Hasn’t been like he has struggled against them. The biggest hit of the night after call came off the bat of the left-handed Reddick. Guess Wedge just wants to take advantage of his oversized bullpen for this short series. Final line on Vargas: 6 1/3 innings, two hits, no runs, two walks and a three strikeouts.
  • 3:50AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Good play by Coco to break up the double play that Suzuki seemed so intent on hitting into.
  • 3:52AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Cespedes gives the A’s the lead with his first MLB home run to deep center field depositing it in the front row above that 13 foot tall fence. Crisp breaking up the double play was crucial. A’s up 2-1.
  • 3:55AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Kelley’s 2012 debut didn’t go as he’d wanted and Wedge ends it by going to the pen to get lefty George Sherrill to face the lefty in Reddick.
  • 3:57AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Hanging sliders will get you every time and Cespedes and Reddick are teaching Kelley and Sherrill just that. Bet Wedge wishes he stuck with Vargas. Back-to-back home runs. Reddick hits it a few rows deep into right field bleachers as Ichiro watches it fly. A’s up 3-1.
  • 4:00AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 2 out – Back-to-back base hits now as Ka’aihue gets on following the Donaldson single. That will chase Sherrill from the game as Steve Delabar is due to come in. Sherrill fails to record an out, allowing three hits including the Reddick blast. Ka’aihue’s night is over too as Melvin replaces him with pinch-runner Brandon Allen.
  • 4:05AM PDT – Bottom of the 7th, 3 out – Delabar, unlike his M’s bullpen counterparts tonight, does what he needs to get as he gets Weeks out swinging. But the damage is done. After a relatively long inning off it’ll be interesting to see if the A’s go with a set-up man to the closer here with the lead. If so, a good question is who the set up man is. It seems like Ryan Cook may have won that gig, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fautino De Los Santos in the role either. That all said, Colon is only at 77 pitches and Melvin just witnessed Wedge going to his pen and violating the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule blow up in his face.
  • 4:08AM PDT – Top of the 8th, 1 out – Melvin leaves Colon in and he gets Saunders on a swinging K on a nasty change. Glad to see that he took that option though it appears Brian Fuentes and Cook are warming in the pen. Seems like Melvin might be using Fuentes as a LOOGY which is nice, given that he had the two guys up it leads me to believe that was how he’d be used today.
  • 4:11AM PDT – Top of the 8th, 3 out – Unless the A’s explode for runs in the bottom half of the eighth, I assume that this is all for Colon tonight. If so, heck of an outing, eight innings, three hits including the Smoak home run, one walk, six strikeouts on just 86 pitches (63 for strikes).
  • 4:19AM PDT – Bottom of the 8th, 2 out – Gomes with his first home run playing for his home town A’s! Looks like another hanging slider and Gomes deposits it pretty deep into the left field bleachers. A’s add the insurance run and lead 4-1. Seattle bullpen not having their finest evening, 1 1/3 innings, no walks, two K’s but also three home runs. Ouch.
  • 4:21AM PDT – Bottom of the 8th, 3 out – Delabar K’s Suzuki to end the eighth. Let’s see what Melvin does here. I say leave Colon in, but I expect Grant Balfour to be trotting out for the save.
  • 4:23AM PDT – And Balfour it is to face the heart of the M’s lineup and secure the victory: Ackley, Suzuki, Smoak due up.
  • 4:26AM PDT – Gets Ackley on strikes. One down, two to go.
  • 4:27AM PDT – Ichiro grounds out to Allen. Two down, one to go. 0-for-4 night with a K for Ichiro, not what the fans in Tokyo wanted to see that is for sure.
  • 4:28AM PDT – Smoak to Weeks. 4-3. Ballgame. A’s win 4-1! Balfour notches a three batter save. Nice to see a clean and perfect ninth. He will be good in this role. A’s now have the best record in baseball! Great stuff. Key moment of this game really was Wedge deciding to vacate Vargas and go to the pen. Vargas was unhitable to the A’s today. Another key play was Crisp breaking up the double play letting Cespedes get the two run home run as the following batter. The A’s now go back to Northern California for some exhibitions before beginning the season again April 6th in Oakland against these very same Mariners.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Hungary4A'sNews permalink
    March 29, 2012 5:58 pm

    Good Read and highly appreciate this detailed info on the game…Games are on at insane hours here in Europe..reminds me not to become a Nippon HamFighters or Ham Fighters, or Ham-Fighters Fan! (my friend and I always argued about the Canadian Football teams..they had like 12 and TWO were the same name..!!!… RoughRiders and Rough Riders….whew..those zany Canadians…another molson aye?)

    thanks again!

    • April 1, 2012 7:03 pm

      Thank you! We had pretty insane hours if I may say so at 3am. Can’t imagine how it being around lunchtime would be worse! Haha.

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