Seattle Mariners vs Oakland Athletics Live Blog: Play-by-Play Analysis, Reaction
Stars of the game for the Mariners include Ichiro Suzuki who went 4-5 with an RBI in his homecoming, Felix Hernandez (8 IP, 1 ER, 6 K), Dustin Ackley (2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) and Tom Wilhelmsen who pitched two perfect innings of relief.
Star on the Oakland side were starter Brandon McCarthy (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 K) and shortstop Cliff Pennington (2-5, 1 R).
The win for the M's puts them atop the AL West (for maybe the only time all year).
The two teams will meet again tomorrow morning at 5:10 AM EDT for a rematch with Jason Vargas taking the hill for the Mariners and Bartolo Colon for the A's.
League got Pennington to fly out to center and struck out Crisp for a quick two outs, but let up a single to Smith, bringing Kurt Suzuki, the tying run, to the plate.
On a 1-2 count, League caught Suzuki swinging for the final out of the season opener.
Ichiro singles it right over Blevins, scoring Ackley from second, but gets caught in a pickle between first and second after Blevins cut off the throw home, making the second out of the inning.
Ichiro, 4-for-5 on the night, ties the Mariners franchise record for most hits on Opening Day. He now shares the record with none other than Ken Griffey, Jr.
Smoak pops out to end the inning. It's now up to closer Brandon League to lock down the game with a save.
Jerry Blevins relieves Andrew Carignan to face Ichiro with one on and one out. Ackley took off on the third pitch of the at-bat, safely taking second and continuing the SB trend.
The Mariners look to do more damage and increase their chances of coming away with the win.
Dustin Ackley singles in Brendan Ryan after Ryan led the eleventh off with a double, and Figgins bunted him over to third! Mariners take the lead 2-1!
Mariners can't get anything going in the top half of the tenth against Brian Fuentes.
Brandon Allen reached on a throwing error by Dustin Ackley to lead off the bottom half of the inning. After replacing Allen as a pinch runner, Colin Cowgill was caught stealing at second on a great throw by Olivo. Brendan Ryan, who was covering second, took a spike to the shin, but he got back up, ready to play.
Next up, Eric Sogard sent one deep to right-center, but Saunders had plenty of time to get under it.
Wilhelmsen closed out the inning by fanning Jemile Weeks.
To the 11th...
Tom Wilhelmsen, the Mariners' exciting, young reliever, came in for the ninth and retired the side with two dangerously deep fly balls and a foul tip strikeout to Cespedes.
We're going to extras!
Heading into the top of the ninth, the game remains tied 1-1. One of these offenses needs to step up and support its pitching staff.
One thing I've noticed is that the home plate ump's calls have been all over the place. It hasn't particularly favored one team or another, but you can see some of the batter's getting frustrated with erratic calls.
The crowd has picked up a bit, getting more into the game as it comes down to the wire. The loudest cheers and most camera flashes still come when Ichiro steps up to the plate, but there have been a few chants for the A's.
Who will make the bold move to score a second run first? Mike Carp and the Mariners? Or Yoenis Cespedes and the A's?
Ryan Cook came in to start the eighth in relief of McCarthy and worked easily through the 9-1-2 hitters from the Mariners.
As we move later and later into the game, a feeling of frustration is sure to be growing for the pitchers. Felix is experiencing the all too familiar lack of run support, and as his pitch count surpasses 100, it looks like the eighth will be his final inning. That gives the M's one more chance to give Felix the W.
The A's threatened in the bottom of the sixth with runners on the corners, but Felix was able to work out of the jam without allowing any runs.
His pitch count, at 83, is a bit higher than McCarthy's after six, but he's fanned six to McCarthy's two. The other notable stat discrepancy between the the two is the HBP category...Felix has already (presumably unintentionally) beaned Cespedes and Smith.
McCarthy countered with a three up, three down inning in the seventh, keeping the pace of this game racing and the score close.
Heading swiftly into the bottom of the sixth, this game remains a pitcher's duel.
McCarthy has thrown 73 pitches through six innings, not having too much trouble retiring Mariners' hitters.
It looked like the Mariners might get something going in the top half of the sixth with singles from Figgins and Ichiro, but nothing came of the hits.
The Mariners haven't looked explosive so far today, but it does look like there's some more potential for offense. Obviously they're hoping to break out of last place in the league for offense, and ideally, Ackley, Smoak, Carp and Montero will lead the charge.
Olivo reaches on what's scored as an error (though he may've been safe without the botched pick). No one's expecting him to steal, so the streak ends at four. The trend, however, will likely continue, as Mariners manager Eric Wedge has obviously modeled his strategy this game to include plenty of bases.
The A's respond with two doubles to even the score at one in the fourth inning.
Pennington led off with a double to left-center, and it looked like Felix might escape the inning unscathed after retiring Crisp and Smith, but Kurt Suzuki sent another ball deep to left, just beyond the diving reach of Mike Carp.
Felix got Reddick to fly out in foul territory, but his shutout is no more.
The Mariners strike first with a solo shot to opposite field from Dustin Ackley. Ichiro followed with his second infield hit of the game, much to the enjoyment of the crowd in the Tokyo Dome that is starting to come alive.
The stealing trend continues with Ichiro taking off on the third pitch of Justin Smoak's at-bat. Smoak grounded the pitch to second, but there was no play for a double play since Ichiro had reached second before Jemile Weeks had even gotten the ball.
Felix tacks on another strikeout in the bottom of the third, looking dominant as ever.
A complete game is a legitimate possibility at this point which would be an unwelcome dose of deja vu for the A's who were subject to a nine-inning, two-run gem on Opening Day in 2011.
Make that three straight breaks for second for Mariners' baserunners: safe once, caught once and foul ball once.
It also seems that Saunders got caught up in the excitement, making a baserunning error that potentially cost the Mariners a run.
McCarthy works out of the third, no runs on two hits.
Felix will face the Athletics' 8-9-1 hitters in the bottom half of the inning. He has three strikeouts already, reassuring any fans concerned about how his weight loss might affect his efficacy from the hill.
Michael Saunders proves that he was a good choice for the center field spot, taking the first pitch he saw for a single. Of everyone in today's starting lineup, Saunders has the least security of his spot.
The stolen base makes a trend for the Mariners: both players to reach base so far have taken off for second.
The Mariners offense looks discouragingly lackluster thus far, but it's still early, and McCarthy got off to a strong start.
Also, the Tokyo Dome has been surprisingly quiet—I was expecting a little more hype and excitement, especially since the fans there didn't have to get up before the sun.
Jemile Weeks stranded at third after advancing to third on a stolen base and a right-side groundball from Coco Crisp.
Felix Hernandez, however, didn't have too much trouble getting Cliff Pennington to fly out and dealing his first strikeout of the season to Seth Smith.
Brandon McCarthy navigates safely through his first inning of work, facing just four batters and using just 15 pitches. The Mariners lineup certainly isn't the most threatening opposition for McCarthy, but there are a bunch of new hitters who looked much improved this spring.
Jemile Weeks leads off the bottom half of the inning with a single to center after a good at-bat against Felix Hernandez (who has slimmed down pretty significantly).
Ichiro is on with an infield hit after working the count full. Looks a lot like last year with Ichiro digging down the first base line, but the full count shows some more patience.
Justin Smoak to the plate...
After Figgins and Ackley ground out, Ichiro comes to the plate and receives an expected ovation from the Japanese fans.
And the 2012 MLB season is underway...after a late appearance by Brandon McCarthy.
The Mariners will be starting Michael Saunders in center field over Casper Wells.
This will be Ichiro's first game hitting third in the order—t'll be interesting to see if his approach at the plate is noticeably different.
That also means Chone Figgins will be back at leadoff where he excelled in LA for a number of years before coming to Seattle.
The time has finally arrived—23 minutes until game time! The dedicated fans have risen and settled in for the first three hours of regular season baseball of 2012.
And here's a look at the projected lineup for the Mariners:
SP Felix Hernandez
C Miguel Olivo
1B Justin Smoak
2B Dustin Ackley
3B Chone Figgins
SS Brendan Ryan
LF Mike Carp
CF Casper Wells
RF Ichiro Suzuki
DH Jesus Montero
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