Photo credit: @Mariners
by Jerry Feitelberg
The Oakland A’s squared off against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, March 20th in the Tokyo to start the 2019 season. The Mariners made several moves in the off-season, and loaded up their lineup with power hitters. Those steps paid off as the M’s downed the A’s 9-7.
The A’s sent Mike Fiers to the mound to pitch. It was the first time in Fiers’ career that he had ever started on Opening Day. He pitched well for the first two innings, but things fell apart for him and the A’s in the top of the third. The A’s staked him to an early 2-0 lead. A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer in the first to give the A’s a 1-0 advantage. Then, they tacked on an unearned run in the second to lead 2-0.
In the third inning, Fiers struggled with his control. The M’s scored a run to make it 2-1. Fiers loaded the bases and had to face Domingo Santana, who had a great year with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. He did not do well last year, and the Brewers sent him to Seattle in a trade. Santana put the M’s in the lead with his first home run of the year and his first career grand slam to propel the M’s to a 5-2 lead. The A’s DH, Khris Davis, responded with a two-run shot in the bottom of the third. The A’s trailed 5-4 after three.
Liam Hendriks gave up a run in the fourth, and Ryan Dull gave up three runs in the fifth. M’s shortstop Tim Beckham greeted Dull with a two-run blast. The A’s Matt Chapman brought the A’s closer with a three-run dinger in the seventh to make it 9-7. The M’s bullpen of Corey Gearrin, Zac Rosscup, and Hunter Strickland closed out the win for Seattle.
Game Notes and Stats: The M’s started 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki in right field. Ichiro received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at the Tokyo Dome. He was 0-1 and had a walk before exiting the game in the fourth inning. Ichiro probably will retire after Thursday’s game.
Marco Gonzalez was the winning pitcher. His line was 6 innings pitched, 7 hits, 4 runs, and 69 pitches.
Fiers’ line was 3 innings of work, 4 hits, and 5 runs. He absorbed his first loss of the year.
Matt Chapman was the hitting star for the A’s with 2 hits, including a home run, and 3 runs batted in. Piscotty and Khris Davis also homered. Tim Beckham had three knocks including a big two-run homer for the M’s.
Up Next: The two teams play Thursday again in Tokyo. Righty Marco Estrada will make his A’s debut, and he will be opposed by the Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi will be making his first start as a Mariner and is highly regarded by the fans in Japan. Game time is at 2:35 am.