BY SPNW Staff 06:28AM 03/29/2012

Mariners Revert To Feebleness In 4-1 Loss

After a rousing victory in their Japan opener Wednesday, the Mariners crashed, scratching out just three hits in a 4-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome.

Dustin Ackley, the hitting star in the season opener, went hitless in the second game as the Mariners lost to Oakland 4-1. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Nrothwest

Euphoric after a rousing victory in the season opener Wednesday, the Seattle Mariners (1-1) crashed hard Thursday, reverting to the offensive feebleness that marked the past two years, while allowing a cascade of long balls in a 4-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics (1-1) at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. At least the Mariners didn’t suffer long: The A’s put them out of their misery in a quick 2:23.

The Mariners’ offense eked out just three hits, including Justin Smoak first home run of the season, undermining a splendid start by Jason Vargas. Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes slammed a two-run home run off reliever Shawn Kelley in the seventh inning and Josh Reddick followed with a solo shot off George Sherrill as the two new Oakland outfielders provided all the punch the Athletics needed.

Oakland DH Jonny Gomes provided an insurance run with another long ball, this one off Steve Delabar, in the eighth inning.

Oakland starter Bartolo Colon, the 39-year-old veteran whose salad days seemed to be behind him, breezed through six innings on 65 pitches while allowing Seattle just two hits. In fact, Colon had a no-hitter going until the fifth when Jesus Montero, Seattle’s big off-season acquisition, slapped a single to right for his first hit as a Mariner.

“I mixed my pitches well,” Colon said. “I tried to go inside with my two-seamer and outside with my fastball.”

“He came right at us, worked both sides of the plate,” said Smoak. “You’ve got to get guys on base to score runs, and that’s something we didn’t do tonight.”

After Montero’s hit, Seattle loaded the bases when catcher Miguel Olivo singled and Michael Saunders walked. But shortstop Brendan Ryan grounded out to end the threat.

Vargas answered Colon effectively, working 6.1 innings while allowing just one run on two hits before manager Eric Wedge lifted him after 85 pitches. At one point, Vargas retired 13 consecutive A’s.

Kelley, who entered with a runner on first and one out in the seventh inning, promptly yielded a two-run homer to Cespedes, the A’s new Cuban import playing in his second major league contest.

“We were one pitch away from being out of that inning, then you can go to your setup [man] and closer,” Wedge said. “You’re one pitch from being in command of the ballgame. But Shawn hung that slider and then Sherrill did the same to Reddick. The big ball really hurt us late in the ballgame.”

“That’s my go-to pitch,” Kelley said. “I want to make a pitch and I didn’t do it. It’s sad. Vargas pitched a heck of a game and deserved to win. Smoaky got the big hit and I cost us the game. Everything that happened after me is on me.”

“He’s getting more and more comfortable every day,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Cespedes “The challenges he faces on the field are probably the easiest for him. He’s been dropped into a situation that is difficult both on and off the field.”

After going 4-for-5 in the season opener, Ichiro went 0-for-4, his batting average plunging to .444. However, in the fifth inning, he excited the Tokyo Dome crowd by making a leaping catch up against the wall in right to take away a base hit from Kurt Suzuki.

Chone Figgins, Seattle’s new leadoff hitter, also went 0-for-4 and is hitting .125. Dustin Ackley, the batting hero of Game 1, also put up an 0-for-4, whiffing twice.

The Mariners left for Arizona immediately after the game, and will resume their Cactus League schedule Saturday with a split-squad game against the San Diego Padres in Peoria. Following four more spring training exhibitions, the Mariners and Athletics will resume the regular season with a two-game series at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum April 6-7.

Seattle then plays a quartet at Texas April 9-12 before returning to Safeco Field for their home opener against Oakland April 13. The Mariners have yet to announce their pitching probables for the home stand which runs through April 22 and features visits by the Cleveland Indians April 17-19 and Chicago White Sox April 20-22.

MARINERS NOTES

  • After two games, the Mariners are 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and have left 17 runners stranded.
  • The Mariners drew just one walk, that by Saunders in the fifth inning.
  • Wedge used Figgins in left field in place of Mike Carp and started Kyle Seager at third base. Seager went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Carp suffered a sprained right shoulder diving for a double hit by Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki in Wednesday’s game. The Mariners placed him on the 15-day DL.
  • To replace Carp on the roster, the Mariners recalled OF Carlos Peguero from AAA Tacoma
  • The top three hitters in the Mariners order — Figgins, Ackley and Ichiro — went 0-for-12 with four strikeouts.
  • This is the fourth year that Major League Baseball has opened its regular season in Japan. The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened in Tokyo in 2000, followed by the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay (2004), and Boston and Oakland (2008). Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play at the Tokyo Dome in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq.
  • For the two games between Seattle and Oakland, Japanese fans paid anywhere from $20 for a standing room ticket to $254 for a seat behind home plate.
  • For taking part in this series, Mariners and Athletics players will be paid about $45,000 each for making the trip. The clubs will be paid approximately the same revenues they would have received if the series had been held in Oakland.
  • Former Seattle closer Kazuhiro Sasaki threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

MARINERS WON-LOSS BREAKDOWN

Rec. Home Road Day Night vs. RHP vs. LHP Hit HR No HR
1-1 0-0 1-1 0-0 1-1 1-1 0-0 1-1 0-0

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
4/6 Fri at Oak To Be Determined
4/7 Sat at Oak To Be Determined
4/9 Mon at Tex To Be Determined
4/10 Tue at Tex To Be Determined

MARINERS 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS

March

Gm.# Date Opp. W/L Rec. Win / Loss
1 3/28 at Oak W, 3-1 1-0 W: Wilhelmsen (1-0); L: Carignan (0-1)
2 3/29 at Oak L, 4-1 1-1 W: Colon (1-0); L: Kelley (0-1)

April

Gm. # Date Opp. W/L Score Win / Loss
3 4/6 at Oak
4 4/7 at Oak
5 4/9 at Tex
6 4/10 at Tex
7 4/11 at Tex
8 4/12 at Tex
9 4/13 vs OaK
10 4/14 vs. Oak
11 4/15 vs. Oak
12 4/17 vs. Cle
13 4/18 vs. Cle
14 4/19 vs. Cle
15 4/20 vs. CWS
16 4/21 vs. CWS
17 4/22 vs. CWS
18 4/24 at Det
19 4/25 at Det
20 4/26 at Det
21 4/27 at Tor
22 4/28 at Tor
23 4/29 at Tor
24 4/30 at TB

YourThoughts

  • Sdcall

    What an inspiration?  His sincerity and honesty in acknowledging other people’s contributions to his greatness was heart warming.

    • Artthiel

       Sdcall, it’s common practice for a long list of thank-yous, but having been around Tez during his Seattle time, I guarantee you his expressions were not Hollywood air kisses. He’s a pretty simple, straightforward guy who means everything he says.

       Like his daddy scolded him, cut the grass right, fool!

  • Jamo57

    Cortez thanked Ken Bering?   Let me be the first to nominate #92 for canonization.

    St. ‘Tez has a nice ring to it.   A bigger man than the rest of us, in more ways than one.

    • Artthiel

       Well, said, Jamo: A bigger man than the rest of us.

  • Artthiel

     The man was among the most loyal, generous and thoughtful people I’ve come across in pro sports. Funny dude, too. Thanks for writing, Andrew.