An Emotional Roller Coaster Already

April baseball is not supposed to be like this. We’re just supposed to be happy that baseball season is here. There shouldn’t be agonizing, crushing losses. Sure, there will be losses, but not the ones that feel like a punch to the stomach. But that’s what we got twice this weekend. And both of them featured Nelson Cruz home runs at inopportune moments for the A’s.

635644027747770902-ben-zobristFriday night was an easy, breezy time as the A’s battered Mariners pitching for 12 runs. They would have many opportunities in the Saturday and Sunday games to put up nearly that many runs, but squandered opportunities and breaks that just wouldn’t go their way just seemed to take over. Saturday they had two runners thrown out at home, including one that would have been the game winner in the 10th. They also had a replay review on a “neighborhood play” at second base go against them, which prolonged the inning in which Cruz hit a three-run homer.

Then on Sunday they had a rare good game against Felix Hernandez, scoring three runs off him before the Mariners surged ahead with seven runs to take a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th. The A’s came back in the 9th though, scoring four runs including the game-tying, two-out, pinch hit single by Eric Sogard. We had to let the Mariners have another turn at bat though and Cruz launched on over left field fence in the top of the 10th to put the Mariners up 8-7 and they’d win the game by that score.

So, ugh. I guess I am glad that baseball is back. But it’s only April, and these games are already gnawing at me. That’s just the way it is though. That’s what I get for loving a team. Go A’s….

 

An Unusual Opening Day

This was not your typical Oakland A’s Opening Day. For one thing, they won, something they hadn’t done in their first game of the season since 2004. Secondly, they scored runs, something they hadn’t done on Opening day since 2012 (though not facing Felix Hernandez helped). And then there was Sonny Gray taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Things that don’t usually happen happened!

635639653214593588-468768564It was nice to see the A’s come out swinging. We are so used to be lulled to sleep by the lack of offense on Opening Day, but Ben Zobrist wasted no time in getting the A’s on the board with a two-run homer in his first regular season at-bat as an A. Stephen Vogt added a no doubter three-run shot later and the A’s offense pretty much cruised, while Sonny cruised on the mound, with some slick defensive assistance by Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis. The only stress as a viewer was for Sonny’s potential no hitter, rather than the prospect of winning and losing.

Now, I definitely wanted to see the no-hitter happen, but at the same time I feared that Bob Melvin was going to have to make a Really Tough Decision, considering Gray’s pitch count and that it was the first game of the season. No-hitters are hard to get so I wasn’t crestfallen when Ryan Rua poked a base hit into right field to lead off the 8th inning. Now Melvin could make a guilt-free call to the bullpen and we could end the night with a nice lopsided victory over the Texas Rangers, and we did.

And now that we’ve got Opening Day over with, it’s on with the daily grind. For me, that’s not going to involve staying up late for any more west coast night games, but instead watching archived games the next morning while trying to avoid social media spoilers. Technology is sweet. Go A’s!

Spring Training Optimism

Pitchers and catchers have reported to camp. Guys are starting to throw and everyone has great things to say. Rehabbing A.J. Griffin is “as lively as we’ve seen him in quite some time.” The ball is “screaming” out of R.J. Alvarez’s hand and Jesse Hahn threw a curveball that buckled BoMel’s knees. Barry Zito, of all people, is in green and gold again. These guys are amazing and I can’t wait for my MLB.tv subscription to auto renew. Hope springs eternal.

201502201404506826922It was an eventful winter, one that saw the dismantling and ultimately retooling of the team that was tearing up the baseball world some eight months ago. After they made an addition by signing Billy Butler to a three-year deal, things began on a downward trend, with the Black Friday shocker trade of Josh Donaldson. Then came the trades of Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija within a day of each other in December, followed by Derek Norris being shipped out of town a week later. It looked like we were cleaning house, going into a rebuild. But then came the January 10 acquisition of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, and then Escobar being flipped for Tyler Clippard. Suddenly, along with some of the pieces acquired in the November and December trades, this looked like a team that might not be half bad.

The A’s are never bad. Really, they never punt a season. Even in recent stretch of down years – the Bob Geren years from 2007 to 2011 – the worst they finished was 74-88. The last time they lost 90+ was in 1997, uncoincidentally the first year of Billy Beane’s GM tenure. Billy Beane tries to win, always.

So we have a new look A’s team in 2015, one with a lot of unknowns and one that is missing a lot of the most well-known faces from last season. But I don’t expect them to be bad. In fact, with all the spring training optimism going around, I expect them to be good. They’ll be bad when I actually see them being bad and racking up losses in the standings. Until then, my hope spring eternal that maybe this is finally the year where things will be different at the end. Go A’s…