For the first time since 2008 the Major League Baseball season opened in the Tokyo Dome in front of the respectful and very well depressed Japanese fans. Here are some things that stood out to me from the season’s first two games:
When the Athletics took the field on Wednesday, Brandon McCarthy did not join them. I had never before that seen a team take the field to start a game without their pitcher. Turns out the bullpens in the Tokyo Dome are underneath the dugouts and McCarthy did not realize that it was time to take the field. Later, cameras showed us into those bullpens, those pens could handle triple barrel action, and they are fully stocked with couches, televisions and fridges. That is a pretty sweet deal for relievers if you ask me.
Ichiro had by far his worst season this side of the pacific in 2011; mainly because he was not getting his infield hits. Usually Ichiro comes up with 50 to 60 infield hits per year (53 in 2010), but in 2011, he only totaled 37, a big reason why he hit .272. Wednesday, Ichiro went 4-5 with 2 infield hits and looks to be on pace to return to life in the .300s.
Forever, Johan Santana was known for having the best changeup in baseball. With his recent injuries, that title moved on to Cole Hammels, or even Tim Lincecum. But I have to say that after watching 8 innings of Felix Hernandez on Wednesday that his change up, no pun intended, is king.
The Athletics showed off their new weapons on Thursday. Bartolo Colon seems to be getting better as his waist size gets larger. On Thursday he went 8 innings while giving up just one run, 3 hits and a walk and he did it on only 86 pitches. The one run came on a Justin Smoak homer that in my opinion he could not repeat, and in Oakland would ok been an easy fly to left. He worked the changeup and his 2-seam fastball made many lefties look bad.
|Colon as Justin Smoak rounds second after a 7th inning homer.|
Three newcomers to the outfield provided the Oakland offense. Josh Reddick (former Red Sox), Jonny Gomes and the 36 million dollar man Yoenis Cespedes each hit one. Cespedes reminds me Jason Bay in that he will get fooled by the breaking ball down and away (although his homer came on a breaking ball) and Adrian Beltre in that he almost goes down to his knees when trying to power a pitch.
Overall, it was a good series. I just dislike that both teams have to now go back to Arizona for more spring training games; the M’s for instant play 5 more spring games. I like the idea, but have this series next week and give both teams 2 days off before playing again. It is also odd to me that these two teams will play each other 5 more times before Jackie Robinson Day. Seven of the first eleven games of any team should never come versus any one opponent.