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One Down, 161 to Go

Konbanwa, baseball fans. Are you ready to pull another all-nighter for Game 2 from Tokyo tonight/tomorrow morning (game time 2:35am PDT)?

Before we get to Game 2, though, some thoughts on game one of the season...

  • Marco Gonzales was a little rough in the early innings, but he settled in quite nicely as the game progressed and could (should?) have continued into the 7th inning. A couple of hanging curves to Chapman and Davis were concerning, but after that inning he seemed to get his breaking pitch back where he wanted it. Considering the brief spring training, he looked great.
  • Ryon Healy was...fine at third base. His throwing error was huge and sloppy, but it came when he was overshifted to basically a pull-second base position, which is its own problem. When actually at third he made the routine plays. Still makes me nervous, though.
  • Omar Narváez is going to be an adventure behind the plate. Dropped pitches, bad blocking, taking a fastball to the bare thumb/chest protector... What's the over-under for passed balls this year? Hopefully he can make up for it with the bat.
  • Dee Gordon is on a mission. He had a terrific game with a hard lineout, base hit, stolen base, and a dandy sac bunt that would have been a hit if anyone other than Matt Chapman had been plying third. And he's got some swagger:

  • I'm afraid Scott Servais is going to screw over Ichiro tonight after yesterday. Ichiro was 0-for-1 in two plate appearances, the second one a great effort resulting in a walk. It was a hard-fought, lengthy confrontation that included a bullet drive foul before the way, way out of the zone ball four. But then Servais pulled him after just 3½ innings, much to the confusion and disappointment of the Tokyo Dome crowd. It was supposed to be a salute kind of moment, but it fell flat and some folks actually started filing out of the stadium—in the fourth. I have no faith in Servais' intentions and expect Ichiro to get cut after tonight no matter what he does, and it'll be a cryin' shame if he gets pulled early again. (Or doesn't even start. That would suck.)
  • I don't expect Tim Beckham to be this year's answer to Nelson Cruz, but that home run Beckham clubbed was LOUD. Well deserving of the bat flip.
  • Enjoy Tacoma, Nick Rumbelow. You were terrible.
  • Gearrin and Strickland, however, looked pretty solid. The bullpen just might be OK this year. Maybe.
  • Tokyo Dome complaints and observations:
    • Bullpens that are under the stands and out of view are weird. Not necessarily bad, just...weird.
    • Its dimensions are too short down the lines, but that's not a complaint reserved just for Tokyo. At least they have a high wall.
    • Like most artificial turf fields these days, it has a fake warning track that I can't believe players don't complain about. The purpose of a warning track is to give the outfielder (or infielder in foul territory) a non-visual cue that he is approaching the wall. If the only difference between the track and the field proper is the color of the turf, it's essentially meaningless.
    • The PA announcer does a "watch out for foul balls" announcement after each foul ball comes down. Seems a little mean—"You've just been conked on the head with a foul ball. Too bad you weren't paying attention."
    • The ESPN camera crew kept showing Sadaharu Oh in the seats. The announcers were oblivious and near as I can recall never once identified him.
    • The lack of baseline chalk (paint) on the old-style artificial turf infield for some reason seems odd to me. I guess it's not important to a baserunner, but it seems like it would be worth including.
  • Is Vogey OK? He stayed in the game after getting hit on the elbow, but only payed another half inning or so, if I'm remembering right. Haven't seen any word on him one way or another yet.
  • Matt Chapman is unreal. Maybe they should just walk him all the time. Also, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the A's being good at defense. Up is down, left is right, the A's have Gold Gloves at the infield corners...
  • Fernando Rodney just won't go away, will he. Good for him.
  • Whoever was manning the Lookout Landing Twitter account last night was almost apoplectic at the Mariners doing any running on the bases. I see it the other way, being a child of the Whitey Herzog '80s Cardinals, I love it. Beckham was thrown out, true, but I'm all for utilizing speed.
  • I really dislike the in-game interviews the broadcasters do with the managers. It's dumb, the Q&A is almost always worthless, and I can't imagine the managers themselves don't hate the intrusion.
  • Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson had a tiny, tiny strike zone. I'll be curious if he maintains it through the season.
  • Scott Servias still doesn't know how to handle his bullpen, unfortunately. Get better at it, please.

Looking forward to tonight's debut by Yusei Kikuchi. Let's go, M's, and let's hope Servais gives Ichiro proper respect.

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