We now return you to your regularly scheduled Cactus League broadcasts
Oakland beat Seattle 4-1 Thursday behind 3 late HRs, earning a split of MLB’s out-of-town preview. Bartolo Colon exploited Seattle’s aggressiveness to work 8 strong innings on just 86 pitches, allowing just 3 hits and a walk. The first 3 men in Seattle’s order went 0-12 with 4 Ks.
Seattle skipper Eric Wedge pursued the platoon edge with his pitching changes, but saw each one backfire. Yoenis Cespedes reversed a 1-0 deficit with a 2-run shot off RH reliever Shawn Kelley with 2 gone in the 7th. Josh Reddick then greeted George Sherrill with a left-on-left bomb, ending a personal 15-game RBI drought. And Jonny Gomes, who batted .167 against righties last year, capped the scoring with a solo HR off northpaw Steve Delabar in the 8th.
- The A’s were 12th in the AL last year with 114 HRs and had just 3 games with 3+ long balls; every other MLB team had at least 5. Their top holdover, Kurt Suzuki, hit 14 HRs last year.
- The teams combined for 4 HRs, twice the high mark in their 19 games last year.
- Cespedes had a double in the series opener. The known record for a career-starting streak of games with an extra-base hit is 5, by Enos Slaughter in 1938. (Only one other player had 4 straight games, which were also the first 4 games in franchise history. Can you guess?)
No Mariner reached base until Jesus Montero singled in the 5th. That eventually led to their only scoring threat, but Brendan Ryan couldn’t produce with 2 out and the sacks full. Justin Smoak‘s “oppo” HR in the 7th, which gave Seattle a brief lead, was the only other interruption to their 1-2-3 waltz.
- Seattle’s last bases-loaded double came in August 2010. Every other team has at least 3 since then.
Don’t put this on the how-to video: With 1 out in the 9th and his team down by 3, Ichiro attacked a 2-0 pitch and grounded out.
- Why was that foolish, when Ichiro has a career .332 BA on putting the 2-0 pitch in play? Because OBP is all that matters here, and that .332 BA is by definition also his OBP for those situations. Taking that pitch yields either a 2-1 or a 3-0 count; his career OBP from those counts is .402 and .658, respectively (excluding IBBs).
- If that all seems too deterministic, then just note that Grant Balfour has held lefties to a .206 BA over the past 4 years.
Seattle SP Jason Vargas had a line much like his first outing last year, which also came in game 2 against the homestanding A’s. In each case, Vargas pitched into the 7th inning and was charged with 1 run (producing Game Scores of 66 and 65), left with a 1-run lead, but saw the bullpen blow it.
- One thing at least seemed like a true Oakland home game: There were 5 foul outs.
Each of MLB’s 4 miniseries played in Tokyo has been split 1-1.
- After each prior Tokyo series, one of the teams has gone on to the League Championship Series, while the other has finished at least 10 games below .500. I foresee at least one of those streaks holding up.
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