Ichiro, Mariners win MLB opener in Japan

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Ichiro, Mariners win MLB opener in Japan

From Comcast SportsNet
TOKYO (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki gave his fans in Japan a performance to cheer about. Suzuki had four hits in his return home, Dustin Ackley homered and singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 Wednesday night in baseball's season opener. "It was very special to open in Japan," said Suzuki, who spent nine seasons in Osaka with the Orix Blue Wave. "I wanted to have fun and give the fans something at this special time and wanted to share a special moment with them." Major League Baseball and the players' association are using the series to assist rebuilding in Japan following last year's earthquake and tsunami. A group of players and coaches traveled to the disaster zone on Tuesday to conduct a baseball clinic. Felix Hernandez combined with two relievers on a six-hitter as MLB opened its season in Tokyo for the fourth time. The continent switch didn't help the A's, who became the first team to lose eight straight openers since Philadelphia from 1985-92, according to STATS LLC. Seattle and Oakland complete their two-game series Thursday. The rest of the big league teams start to get going April 4, when the renamed Miami Marlins open their new ballpark against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. A capacity crowd of 44,227 at Tokyo Dome was a sea of flashbulbs every time Suzuki came to bat. He got a standing ovation when he took his position in right field in the final inning. Dropped from leadoff to third in the batting order as he started his 12th big league season, Suzuki singled in the first when be beat shortstop Cliff Pennington's throw after his grounder over the mound was deflected by Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy. Suzuki singled on a grounder to shortstop in the fourth, singled to center in the sixth and had an RBI single to center in the 11th. "We're trying to stretch out the lineup and have the guys feed off each other," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "I think Ichiro hitting in the third spot is the right place. We're going to be a very offensive ballclub this year." The 38-year-old Suzuki set a big league record with 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons before falling short last year. "He's a hitting machine," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, who managed Suzuki with the Mariners in 2003 and 2004. "It doesn't matter where he bats in the lineup. That's what he does -- hit." Ackley homered in the fourth off McCarthy, and Oakland's Kurt Suzuki doubled in a run in the bottom half. The score remained 1-1 until the 11th, when Brendan Ryan doubled against Andrew Carignan (0-1), Chone Figgins sacrificed and Ackley singled to center. "I was able to put a good swing on that one," Ackley said. "Our team is off to a good start, and that's all that matters." Jerry Blevins relieved, Ackley stole second and Ichiro Suzuki singled for a two-run lead. Brandon League closed it out for the save. Tom Wilhelmsen (1-0) got the win with two hitless innings. Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a 36 million, four-year contract with Oakland, was 1 for 3 with a seventh-inning double and two strikeouts in his major league debut. Hernandez, coming off a 14-14 season, allowed five hits in eight innings, struck out six and walked none, throwing 104 pitches. McCarthy gave up one run and six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks. While Oakland threatened repeatedly, the A's were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. "They got bigger hits than we did at the end," Melvin said. "We hit some balls hard, but they just didn't get in." NOTES: It was 3:09 a.m. PDT when the game began. It was not televised live in the U.S. outside the markets of the teams involved, and was shown on a delayed basis by the MLB Network. ... Bartolo Colon starts Thursday the A's, opposed by Jason Vargas. ... The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened in Tokyo in 2000, followed by the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay (2004), and Boston and Oakland (2008). Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play at the Tokyo Dome in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq. ... A pregame video presentation honored victims and survivors of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. The video was narrated by Derek Jeter, Bobby Valentine and Cal Ripken Jr. ... The eight straight losses in openers is an A's record, one shy of the major league mark shared by the New York Giants (1893-1901) and Atlanta (1972-80).

Sharks center Couture taken to hospital after puck hits him in the mouth

Sharks center Couture taken to hospital after puck hits him in the mouth

NASHVILLE – After taking a deflected puck to the face, Sharks center Logan Couture was taken to a local hospital in the Nashville area, coach Pete DeBoer said after the game.
 
There was no further information about how serious his injury might be.
 
“I don’t have a report. I heard they took him to the hospital. That’s the last I heard,” DeBoer said.
 
Couture was set up just outside the crease when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. Replays showed Couture appeared to lose at least one tooth, and he quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.
 
Losing Couture would be a devastating blow to a team that has lost six in a row in regulation, including Saturday night’s 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the Predators. Couture is third on the team in scoring with 52 points, and has a team-leading 11 power play goals. He entered Saturday’s game with four goals and five assists in his last 10 games, seemingly heating up since the All-Star break.
 
Frequent linemate Patrick Marleau was asked how tough it would be to lose Couture.
 
"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” he said. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Instant Replay: Sharks picked apart by Predators, losing streak continues

Instant Replay: Sharks picked apart by Predators, losing streak continues

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE – The Sharks’ road trip somehow got worse, before mercifully coming to an end on Saturday in Nashville.
 
For the second time in two nights, the Sharks were handled with ease by their opponent as Nashville skated to a 7-2 win at Bridgestone Arena. San Jose lost its sixth straight, all in regulation, including all four games on its road trip.
 
Colton Sissons and James Neal each had two goals to lead Nashville.
 
The Sharks have been outscored 13-3 in their last two games, including Friday night’s disastrous 6-1 defeat to lowly Dallas. The last time San Jose lost all of its games in regulation on a road trip of at least four games was March 19-29, 1993 (0-6-0).
 
The Sharks lost center Logan Couture late in the second period, when he was hit squarely in the mouth with a deflected puck and did not return, appearing to loose at least one tooth on the play. Couture immediately charged towards the dressing room after he was struck.
 
Trailing 2-0 to start the second period, Patrick Marleau cut the lead in half on the power play, when he redirected a Brent Burns pass at 4:24.
 
Nashville responded right away, though, when Marcus Sorensen was caught high-sticking P.K. Subban. Neal capped off a pretty passing play with his third goal in as many games against the Sharks this season, whipping it in from the circle just 24 seconds after Marleau’s score.
 
Subban upped the Preds’ lead to 4-1, when Martin Jones lost sight of the puck and the Nashville defenseman whizzed it just inside the post on a shot from the wall at 14:39.
 
Justin Braun brought the Sharks back to within 4-2 with his first goal in 20 games at 16:19 of the second period, but San Jose didn’t get any momentum from the tally. Sissons and Neal each got their second of the night in the final frame, including Neal’s on the power play while Micheal Haley was serving a match penalty.
 
Viktor Arvidsson’s shorthanded goal at 19:22 capped the scoring, and another embarrassing night for San Jose.
 
The Preds scored the only two goals of the first period. At 4:14, Sissons parked in front of the net and whacked in a pass from Colin Wilson, who outmuscled Tomas Hertl on a loose puck behind the net.
 
Cody McLeod made it 2-0. After Roman Josi walked Burns just inside the blue line, the defenseman's shot hit the crossbar and McLeod was in front to poke it over the line at 15:19.
 
The Predators improved to 6-1-0 in their last seven, and took over third place in the Central Division ahead of St. Louis.
 
The Sharks are just 1-5-0 in their last six regular season games in Nashville, with the lone win coming in a shootout. Saturday was their only visit of the season.
 
Special teams 
 
The Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Nashville was 2-for-4. Perhaps the only good news for San Jose lately is its power play could be coming out of its season-long slump, going 4-for-17 over the last seven games.
 
Marleau has seven power play goals this season.
 
Haley was kicked out of the game for attempting to injure Calle Jarnkrok in the third period.
 
In goal
 
Jones lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions, allowing seven goals on 34 shots, and is just 1-4-2 in his career in the regular season against the Predators.
 
Pekka Rinne made 26 saves, winning his fourth straight start while allowing just five total goals over that span. He’s 11-6-4 career against the Sharks.
 
Lineup
 
Marc-Edouard Vlasic was scratched due to illness, although he did not appear to be walking right after Friday’s game in Dallas when he took just one shift in the third period. San Jose is 2-4-1 when its top defensive defenseman doesn’t dress.
 
Chris Tierney was also out, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Timo Meier returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch on Friday.
 
Joe Pavelski played in his 800th career game.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks return home to host the Rangers on Tuesday. It’s their first meeting since New York’s 7-4 win on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden in the third game of the season.