Inconvenient as the schedule might be, the Athletics began the 2012 Major League Baseball regular season "hosting" the Seattle Mariners in the Tokyo Dome. While they may have been designated the home team, the crowd was clearly behind the Mariners, in no small part due to the return of Ichiro Suzuki. In spite of a very good start from Brandon McCarthy and an RBI double from Kurt Suzuki, they fell 3-1 to Seattle in 11 innings. A theme from last year, the A's struggled with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-14 and squandering multiple chances in the seventh and eighth innings against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
Reliever Andrew Carignan gave up the losing run in the 11th inning on a single to Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley and took the loss.
McCarthy went seven strong innings, giving up just six hits without walking a hitter and striking out three. Cliff Pennington was the only Athletics hitter with more than one hit, collecting a single and a double. Yoenis Cespedes went one for three in his Major League debut, getting an opposite-field double off of Hernandez in the seventh inning.
The good: Brandon McCarthy. His breaking balls were biting for the most part and he got many Mariners hitters to beat the ball into the Tokyo Dome turf for easy ground balls. Like last year, he was great against the Seattle lineup.
The bad: Andrew Carignan. It is tough to single out a reliever who is still essentially in spring training mode, but Carignan was charged with the loss and gave up two runs on two hits while only recording one out.
The ugly: Hitting with runners in scoring position. 1-14. It is a recurring theme watching the A's. Guys get on base and even get into scoring position, only to be stranded time and time again. I give some credit to Felix Hernandez, but the reality is, it looked like the same thing A's fans have become accustomed to seeing for a long time now.
Bartolo Colon makes his debut for the A's Thursday as the A's try to get a split in Tokyo before coming back to finish exhibition play.