Mariners top A’s 7-3 in stateside opening night
April 7, 2012
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Chone Figgins had three hits and two RBIs, and Kyle Seager singled twice and drove in a pair of runs, leading the Seattle Mariners past the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Friday night in the stateside opener for both teams.
Seager’s two-run single highlighted a four-run third inning that broke the game open for the Mariners, resuming a series that began in Japan more than a week ago.
Jason Vargas (1-0) allowed five hits in 5 1-3 innings. His only mistake was a fastball crushed by Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to deep left-center field for a two-run homer, the second long ball of the season for Oakland’s new center fielder.
Brandon McCarthy (0-1) gave up five runs – two earned – on seven hits in five innings.
A wacky way to start the season finally began to resemble normalcy in the Coliseum’s confines.
The teams split the first two games of the series that began March 28 in Japan. Both returned to the U.S. to finish up the spring training schedule – oddly squeezed between the series and spread out over more than a week – before resuming meaningful games.
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The Mariners moved back into regular-season mode fast.
For that matter, so did the A’s.
After Brendan Ryan doubled to lead off the third, Figgins bunted up the third-base line. Josh Donaldson’s throw to first pushed hustling second baseman Jemile Weeks into the baseline, getting his hand crushed by Figgins and sending the ball – and Weeks’ glove – into the spacious grass in foul territory.
McCarthy gave up a single to Dustin Ackley and a walk to Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases. He almost squeezed out of the jam when Justin Smoak flied out and Jesus Montero hit a sacrifice fly to right.
But Suzuki stole second and Seager followed with a two-run single to put the Mariners ahead 4-0, earning a smattering of boos from a rare crammed Coliseum crowd – announced a sellout at 35,067 – that has saved its best dismay for July, August and September in recent years.
Only the newest and highest paid A’s player gave fans something to cheer about.
Cespedes smacked a fastball off Vargas that hit the second-deck facade in left-center in the fourth, bringing the bright yellow-and-green clad fans roaring to their feet for a soaring shot sparingly hit by the home team. The two-run homer sliced Seattle’s lead to 5-2 and gave A’s faithful some hope they might’ve finally signed some pop.
They sure haven’t found much else.
Cespedes’ home debut wasn’t a complete success. He also struck out with two on in the sixth and again in the eighth after Jonny Gomes’ run-scoring single to finish 1 for 4.
The Mariners added two more runs in the sixth off reliever Jordan Norberto to go ahead 7-2, spoiling one of Oakland’s biggest nights of the year and setting the stage to take the season-opening series. Seattle will send ace Felix Hernandez to the mound opposite fellow right-hander Bartolo Colon for Saturday night’s finale.
The Mariners pushed Hernandez’s second start back so he could pitch the home opener in Seattle next Friday against Oakland.
NOTES: Oakland RF Josh Reddick is learning to speak a few Spanish words now that Cespedes is in center. Asked how the two communicate, Reddick joked, “As long as he knows how to say ‘I got it,’ we’re good. I don’t want to run into that brick wall.” … A moment of silence was held before the game for victims of a shooting at nearby Oikos University on Monday that killed seven people. … Gene Tenace, who won the 1972 World Series MVP for Oakland, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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