Melvin: It's definitely disappointing to lose on Opening Day
Assuming no rainouts or skipped turns, the A's won’t see Felix Hernandez again until May 10 at Safeco Field. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- Once again, the Oakland A’s decided to make their fans work for it. Once again, they started a season 0-1. And once again, they got earholed by Felix Hernandez.
Hardly seems fair when you think of it, really. Facing Hernandez, the spectacular Seattle Mariner ace, to start a season is the rough equivalent of a five-game suspension, and about as much fun. The A’s have now seen him five times on Opening Day, and he has won four of them, with an ERA of 1.25.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Mariners 2, A's 0]
In other words, the A’s really should have skipped this game entirely, and told everyone that they were opening Tuesday against Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s unlikely anyone would have complained much.
Indeed, this was a generally meh day for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants traveled to Los Angeles to get Hernandez’d in their particular idiom. They called it being Kershawed, but the effect is largely the same.
[BAGGARLY: Kershaw soaks Giants on Opening Day]
But the A’s needed a breakthrough more than the Giants did, because they are trying to nurture a crowd the way a gardener tries to nurse a flower through a brick patio. The A’s sold out the building, as they traditionally have on Opening Night in Oakland, but in the past eight years, they have lost an average of a little more than 18,000 fans for Game Two.
The A’s have reached a curious place in their tenure here. On the field, they have star power and characters, a sense of the lively underdog that appeals to Oakland’s more sandpapery sense of fun. Yoenis Cespedes is by definition a must-see, Josh Reddick has a beard you could hide a wolverine in, and the roster looks more like a major league one and less like prospect bait.
And the crowd Monday night held that sense of delight that it created in the second half of last year. They worked themselves into froths hoping the boys would take the hint, but two doubles and a single over nine innings do not sustain any kind of effervescence. They went down putting only three runners in scoring position, and wasted Brett Anderson’s perfectly acceptable seven innings.
All because Felix Hernandez does not play around. He gave A’s catcher and former teammate John Jaso a Rolex watch before the game for catching his perfect game last year in Seattle, and even conspired with Jaso (just kidding) to allow him Oakland’s first hit, a one-out double in the fourth.
But nothing came of it, because Hernandez is, after all, Hernandez, every bit the pitcher Clayton Kershaw is in Los Angeles, and every bit the pitcher Justin Verlander is in Detroit. For the A’s to begin their annual toils against him year after year seems, well, wrong.
In fact, the A’s haven’t scored in either of the last two games in Oakland, because they got Verlander’d in Game 5 of the American League Division Series last year, 6-0. Now that’s way wrong.
But unfair is only that when you give up trying to overcome it, and the A’s still have some good will to spend as they try to get back up to speed for another charge at the American League West title. Plus, assuming no rainouts or skipped turns, they won’t see Hernandez again until May 10 at Safeco Field. By then, they should have a bit more momentum.
Or maybe they can just call in sick. That would seem to work just as well.