For most of America, their only knowledge of the Oakland A’s was watching Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the movie Moneyball. But in reality, this largely no-name team hopes to surprise the experts.
What about the 2012 squad? In early Spring, the A’s lucked out acquiring the rights to sign Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. He represents the one legitimate threat in the Oakland lineup with the potential to hit .280 with 25-30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
While the Athletics signed Manny Ramirez, he has to serve a fifty game suspension and won’t be eligible to join the team until June 1.
The biggest problem is that the old and dank Oakland Coliseum is one of the oldest ballparks in the country and it’s nothing like fabled Fenway Park. To put it mildly, it’s the anti-AT&T Park. The so-called stateside home opener did draw a sellout but there was hardly an Opening Night atmosphere. The second game will likely draw fewer than 15,000 fans.
Oakland should have good starting pitching. Their ace is right-hander Brandon McCarthy who’s style of pitching is similar to Greg Maddux. He relies on a heavy sinker and pinpoint location to get outs. McCarthy’s achillies heel is that he does not do a good job of holding runners.
“A game like that where all of the fans are here and behind you and really supporting you for the night it’s a game you’d like to go out and play your best,” McCarthy said. “It just wasn’t one of those nights and we didn’t do much well and we’ve got to make sure it’s not a trend and that tomorrow night we come out and make up for it.”
Brandon McCarthy’s postgame interview:
But the Mariners scored one run on a throwing error, another run on a sac-fly, and a two out, two run single by Kyle Seager using a four run third inning to beat the A’s, 7-3.
The Athletics didn’t show much for themselves at the plate. Aside from two singles in the first inning, Jason Vargas retired nine in a row. After a walk to Jonny Gomes, Cespedes did not disappoint. He blasted an absolute rocket some 425 feet to deep left center off the facade above the luxury suite windows and just below the plaza outfield seats. ESPN estimated the ball could have traveled as far as 462 feet and I can’t recall a ball ever being hit in that location.
After the game through his interpreter Ariel Prieto, Cespedes said he’s hit farther home runs in Cuba but did admit it’s the power he wants to bring to the team.
While payroll isn’t an indicator to success, the teams that generally make the playoffs are the big spenders. That being said, expect the A’s to have between 65-75 wins.
Like the Giants, the A’s have trouble scoring runs. Oakland’s larger problem is hitting with runners on base — going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position with the last four hitters in the order going 2-for-16 overall. Both hits were singles by the no. 8 hitter, Kila Ka’aihue.
“We’ve got to capitalize,” second baseman Jemile Weeks said. “We take it upon ourselves to work on that and do better. It’s game number three for us so things will get better and this team is capable of winning and we’ll prove it.”
Jemile Weeks’ postgame interview:
Notes: The A’s in their Oakland openers are 16-12. Last Opening day win was April 5, 2004 … Cespedes became the first player in Oakland history to homer twice in his first three major league games.