A's Bumble Their Way Through First Weekend

Oakland's strengths are supposed to be pitching and defense, and in the first two games of the season, the A's showed little skill in either area.

Oakland committed five errors in the opener, and Daric Barton -- one of the best defensive first basemen in the league -- had an error in each of the team's first three games. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff made back-to-back errors in the opener and had trouble fielding balls cleanly in the second game, too, though he wasn't charged with an error.

A bigger concern might be in the A's bullpen, where usually reliable reliever Craig Breslow had two rough outings, giving up five hits, a walk and four runs, three earned, in a total of one inning. He gave up the go-ahead run in each of Oakland's first two games.

Breslow missed much of the spring with a hamstring strain and he wasn't sharp when he did return, putting up an ERA of 11.25 in five outings. Although his velocity has been good so far, his location is off, and Breslow said that his pitch selection also hasn't been perfect.

"I'm just not getting outs," Breslow said.

With four left-handers, including Breslow, the A's are using Breslow in a slightly different role so far. He was the primary set-up man for Andrew Bailey last year, but now it appears he'll be coming in in the sixth or seventh inning, with Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes slated for set-up roles. Balfour is currently setting up for Fuentes, who is filling in while Bailey is out with a forearm strain.

Other A's News

--C Kurt Suzuki came out of Friday night's opener with a mild left ankle sprain half an inning after Seattle's Miguel Olivo slid over the back of his left leg, but Suzuki was back in the lineup on Saturday. "It took a roll of tape, and I can't move my ankle, but they said it can't get worse, so if I can handle the pain, I can play," he said. Over the past three seasons, Suzuki has started the second-most games behind the plate (391) in the majors, trailing only Jason Kendall (398).

--C Landon Powell changed his jersey number from 35 to 11 on Opening Night, which, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is a nod to his wife Allyson's NBA Hall of Fame grandfather, Bob Davies, and her father, Bo Davies, who played for the Saints. Powell's teammates teased the burly backup that the number change was actually because 11 is slimming. "Vertical stripes," Powell told the Chronicle.

--LHP Brian Fuentes grew up an A's fan in Merced, Calif., but his first appearance with Oakland on Saturday night wasn't a storybook-type debut. Fuentes, who is closing while Andrew Bailey is out with a right forearm strain, took over in the ninth inning with the game tied and he allowed three runs, two earned, and was charged with the loss. "It's always frustrating when you come in and pitch poorly, regardless of the score," he told reporters afterward.

--2B Mark Ellis had hits in each of the A's first three games, extending his career-high hitting streak to 16 games, a stretch in which Ellis hit .387. It's the longest hitting streak spanning two seasons in Oakland history, passing Reggie Jackson's 15-game streak from Sept. 27, 1972 to April 18, 1973.

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