Defense Fails A's On Opening Night

The Oakland A's plan for the 2010 season was to use pitching and defense to win. On Opening Day, the A's weren't able to get enough of either one, as they dropped the season opener to the Seattle Mariners by a score of 5-3.

Faced with a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning against Seattle Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez, the Oakland A's looked like they were set to go down quietly on Opening Day. However, thanks to some un-Felix-like wildness, some speed on the base-paths and a couple of well-placed base-hits, the A's were able to claw their way back into the game, tying it in the seventh inning. However, a defensive lapse in the ninth by A's newcomer Kevin Kouzmanoff led to two unearned runs and a 5-3 A's loss.

With the game tied 3-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth, the A's called on reigning AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey to face Chone Figgins with runners on first and second and two-outs. Bailey got Figgins to ground into what looked like the final out of the inning, but Kouzmanoff's throw pulled A's first baseman Daric Barton off of the bag for an error, loading the bases. Casey Kotchman followed the error with a bloop hit into centerfield to drive-in the two game-winning runs.

The Oakland offense was, for the most part, dominated by King Felix and the Seattle bullpen. The A's managed to hit only one flyball and three line-drives the entire game, grounding out 19 times including four double-plays. The A's hit only five balls into the outfield the entire game. Oakland also struck-out six times. However, the A's walked seven times and were able to drive-up Felix's pitch count to 101, causing him to be lifted in the seventh inning, igniting the A's comeback.

Four double-plays killed the A's momentum, however. Ryan Sweeney and Kouzmanoff each hit into two double-plays, and Kouzmanoff's second double-play came at a critical moment, when the A's had runners at first and second with no-outs in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied at three.

Ben Sheets had an uneven start in his Oakland debut. The right-hander allowed single runs in each of the first three innings before settling down to throw two scoreless frames. Sheets finished the start having allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with four walks and three strike-outs. He also allowed a solo homerun by Rob Johnson.

Jerry Blevins took over for Sheets in the sixth inning and was outstanding in his 2010 debut. The lefty tossed two scoreless and hitless innings, walking two but striking out three. Craig Breslow recorded two outs in the seventh inning before yielding to Brad Ziegler with a runner on and two outs. Ziegler got the third out in the eighth, but his one-out walk to Johnson in the ninth ignited the Mariners' game-winning rally.

* Kurt Suzuki had two throwing errors in the game. He had five errors all of last season.

* Casey Kotchman drove-in four of Seattle's five runs, two of them coming on the game-winning hit in the ninth.

* Daric Barton also had an error in the game. He led the A's offense by reaching base three times, all on walks.

* Cliff Pennington and Rajai Davis combined to collect four of the A's five hits and drive-in two of the A's three runs.

* The A's only flyball out came in the ninth inning against David Aardsma.

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