A's drop eighth consecutive home opener

April 7, 2012, 5:16 am
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OAKLAND -- For the first time in 2012, the A's took the field at the Oakland Coliseum Friday night, but Brandon McCarthy could not maintain his dominance over the Mariners in front of an announced sellout of 35,067, as he was chased after five innings.Yoenis Cespedes provided A's fans something to cheer for, but Oakland never posed a serious threat after the Mariners' four-run third inning.The A's lost their eighth consecutive home opener by a score of 7-3, and fell to 1-2 on the young season.Co-Players of the Game: Batting eight and ninth for the Mariners, center fielder Michael Saunders and shortstop Brendan Ryan went a combined 4-for-7. They were catalysts for all four of Seattle's scoring rallies and amassed four runs between them.Turning point: After Brendan Ryan's double to lead off the third inning, Chone Figgins laid down a sacrifice bunt. Charging hard, Josh Donaldson threw off balance to first base. His throw sailed right and nailed Figgins between the numbers. Ryan scored, Figgins advanced to second, and the Mariners' four-run inning was in motion.Where he left off?: In his last five starts against the Mariners, McCarthy has been dominant to the tune of three complete games, a 1.86 ERA, a .182 Mariners batting average, 30 strikeouts and three walks.The first two innings went as McCarthy expected. Aside from a couple of base hits -- one from Dustin Ackley who homered off McCarthy in Game 1 -- the Mariners looked innocuous.The third inning was a different story. It started double-error-single-walk. All four base runners scored.In Game 1 this season, it took McCarthy just 82 pitches to get through seven innings of one-run ball against Seattle. He threw 59 strikes. Friday, McCarthy had to wind and throw 95 times to get through five innings. He threw 58 strikes.G-G-G-G-Get the tape!: Before the game, Bob Melvin said, "You want to make a great first impression on the fans."That's exactly what Yoenis Cespedes did with the A's trailing 5-0 in the fourth inning. His mighty hack connected with a 2-1 pitch from Jason Vargas and sent fans, media, and the Twitter world into a frenzy.Cespedes' shot may have dented the concrete facade above the luxury suites in left center field, a solid 40 feet above the 388-foot sign in left-center.Cespedes, who sent an almost identical shot in BP, now has two home runs in three MLB games. He looks awfully comfortable in that trot.When asked about hitting in the cold Oakland weather before the game, Cespedes said through a translator that when he hits it well, it's gone.He wasn't lying. It measured 462 feet.Squandering the sixth: The A's got a break in the sixth inning when, following Coco Crisp's leadoff single, Jason Vargas threw Josh Reddick's comebacker into center field.With two runners on, none out, and Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes and Kurt Suzuki coming to the plate, things looked good for the A's.But Oakland's extensive foul ground victimized a visibly frustrated Gomes, Cespedes struck out after corkscrewing himself into the ground and visiting with trainers, and Kurt Suzuki grounded out to third to end the threat.Squeeze it: Every so often you see an infielder drop a ball transferring the ball to his throwing hand. Rarely do you see it happen to an outfielder.In the third inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Mariners cleanup hitter Justin Smoak skied a ball to left-center field. Coco Crisp stood under it, but Yoenis Cespedes came flying in, called off Crisp, made the catch, and squared to home.Cespedes' reputation was enough to keep the speedy Figgins from attempting to tag up, but had he broke for home it would have been an easy score as the ball slipped from Cespedes' glove on the transfer.A batter later, Jesus Montero flied to right, where Josh Reddick waited. He made the catch, but as he prepped to throw, the ball slipped out of his glove. Figgins, who was tagging this time, scored easily, and the Mariners' big inning continued.Both Cespedes and Reddick attempted their catches with one hand.In the pinch: Seth Smith was called upon in the bottom of the eighth inning, pinch hitting for Jonny Gomes, who might have still been fuming from his pop-out with two runners on two innings prior.Smith fouled off two pitches in a 1-2 count before roping on a 96-mph fastball to right field.Jemile Weeks scored, Coco Crisp advanced, and Bob Melvin gained a little trust in Smith.Delaying history: Ichiro Suzuki, batting third for just the 16th time in his career, went 0-for-5. He still needs three hits against the A's surpass Rod Carew as the all-time leader.The A's still have 16 games against Ichiro's Mariner's this year.

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