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April 2, 2007 at 3:18 PM

A’s vs. Mariners

For those who missed it earlier, our starting lineups for today:
Oakland
C Jason Kendall
LF Shannon Stewart
CF Milton Bradley
DH Mike Piazza
3B Eric Chavez
1B Nick Swisher
SS Bobby Crosby
RF Travis Buck
2B Mark Ellis
RHP Dan Haren
Seattle
CF Ichiro
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Jose Guillen
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
RHP — Felix Hernandez
Going to try to give you as much of a running update as possible. Don’t get excited, this is just an added Opening Day extra, as many of you (like me) do have to work and can’t get to TV or radio. We won’t be doing this every game, prefering to give in-game analysis and comments instead. But for now, no problem keeping you all up to date.
Just saw CEO Howard Lincoln, president Chuck Armstrong and GM Bill Bavasi out on the field holding up a trophy. Now there’s a Kodak moment. Better snap it now, or forever…oh, never mind. By the way, it was Ichiro’s Gold Glove award they were presenting to him.
FELIX THROUGH THE 1ST
Lots of 97s and 98s put up on the scoreboard radar measurements by Hernandez in a 1-2-3 first inning. I wouldn’t put all the faith in the world in those measurements, but it was still a solid-looking start. Hernandez caught Kendall looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out, got Stewart to ground out 5-3 in a tough at-bat, then had Bradley go around while trying to check his swing on a 2-2 offering. One thing I’d keep an eye on at this stage is Hernandez’s pitch count. He’s already at 17 after an easy inning and these A’s do know how to work an at-bat.
Mariners already done in their half of the inning, with Ichiro going 6-3, Beltre popping out to center and Vidro grounding out 4-3. An eight-pitch inning for Haren.
NO PERFECT GAME
Hernandez has really been on the first two innings. He began the second by catching Piazza looking at an 0-2 fastball (measured at 98 mph by the scoreboard), got Chavez to ground out to second after he’d fouled off a few two-strike pitches to stay alive. Swisher then worked a very impressive full-count walk and advanced to second on a passed-ball charged to Johjima. But Hernandez got out of it on a 6-3 groundout by Crosby. His pitch count, however, is now at 36. That’s too high for a guy who’s allowed only one baserunner. Got to be more economical or he’ll be done by the sixth inning.
The Mariners went 1-2-3 in their half of the second, with Ibanez flying out to center, Sexson striking out — hmmm! — on a 2-2 pitch and Guillen chasing a high fastball with the count full. Haren has barely broken a sweat. On to the third!
MOWING THEM DOWN
Hernandez just got through a 1-2-3 third, on only 11 pitches to boot (bringing his total to 45). He struck out Buck — looking — on a 1-2 pitch, got Ellis to ground out 4-3 then fanned Kendall on a 1-2 offering. That’s five strikeouts and only one walk allowed by Hernandez over the first three innings. The reason I keep harping on his pitch count, really the only negative, is because Haren got through the first two frames on only 22 pitches. The Mariners need Hernandez around later on in this game, the way things are shaping up. These next couple of innings will be big.
Mariners just went 1-2-3 again (sigh!) in the third, with Johjima popping out to second, Betancourt flying out to left on a ball that would have left the park in Arizona, but was just routine here. Lopez then popped out to second. So, we’ve got a perfect game (Haren) and no-hitter (Hernandez) heading into the fourth.
FELIX DODGES A BULLET
Stewart led off the fourth inning with a sharp single to left field. But Bradley, in a really terrible piece of hitting, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play. Lopez bobbled the ball at second, but it was hit so hard that he still had plenty of time to turn it. Why Bradley wouldn’t give the speedy Stewart a chance to steal second in a low-scoring (non-scoring) game, only he knows the answer to. Piazza grounded out 5-3, so a potentially troublesome start turns into a six-pitch inning for Hernandez. He’s cut things down nicely to only 51 through four frames. In good shape heading to the middle innings.
Mariners failed to score in the fourth inning again, though they did make Haren work a little harder. Ichiro flied out to left, Beltre popped out to shallow center and Vidro finally got his team a hit with a single up the middle. But the rally was short-lived as Ibanez grounded out to Haren, unassisted.
Two one-hitters in-play in a scoreless game heading to the fifth.

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