A’s Beat Giants 9-4 in Today’s Cactus League Opener

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The Oakland Athletics opened up Cactus League play with a 9-4 victory over the visiting san Francisco Giants.

The bright, shiny, and new addition to the Oakland Athletics Ben Zobrist opened the game by fielding a slow chopper and throwing out San Francisco Giants leadoff batter Nori Aoki.

He then made the next play by fielding a grounder and throwing Joe Panik out at first as well. Following a walk, Zobrist helped retire the side with another putout to first.

The top half of the first inning was very indicative of how many of us feel the 2015 season will go with Zobrist being in the middle of most of the action.

The bottom half of the first, also the first at-bat for the A’s, gave us our first glimpse of the potential the revamped Oakland lineup has to offer. Craig Gentry, batting in a game for the first time since September 9, 2014, did not disappoint, singling to right field.

Following his single, Gentry took off for a steal of second a couple pitches into Marcus Semien’s first at-bat as an Athletic. This attempt would be rendered useless however as Semien took Giants starter – and postseason hero – Madison Bumgarner deep for a two-run home run.

Zobrist followed with a triple to left field, then scored on a Billy Butler sacrifice fly.

Brett Lawrie flew out, but Nate Freiman completed the cycle for the Athletics with a double to right field. And the man we are all very eager to learn more about, Mark Canha, held his own against Bumgarner, but wound up striking out to end the inning.

The first inning for Oakland – defensively and offensively – went exactly according to general manager Billy Beane’s plan when he reconstructed the roster this winter. A single, home run, triple, and sac fly led to the A’s scoring 3 early runs off of one of baseball’s bonafide aces, perhaps opening the eyes of doubters  – both in the Oakland fan-base and outside the Athletics community.

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It is still too early in the season to make any claims about the new-look Athletics, but it did not take long for the new additions to make their presence felt.

Other notes and reactions to today’s Cactus League opener:

  • The A’s knocked Bumgarner out of the game after just 1.2 innings with an aggressive approach.
  • Craig Gentry went 2-for-2 off Bumgarner as the lead-off batter with a stolen base. Expect much better things from him this season than we saw in 2014
  • Marcus Semien (2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R CS) had a strong early showing offensively, no hiccups defensively.
  • Likewise for Ben Zobrist (2-for-2, 2B, 3B, R).
  • There was plenty for the managers to review about their respective clubs as the A’s and Giants combined for 10 hits and 7 runs in just the first 3 innings.
  • Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous reliever for Oakland, was the lone notable pitching performer for the A’s. He entered the third inning with a runner at third base and two outs and induced a ground ball to end the threat. He struck out Brandon Belt to start the fourth inning before being removed from the game. He faced one right-handed batter using his right hand and one left-handed batter using his left hand.
  • Manager Bob Melvin exercised platoons even in the first spring game. Canha, Gentry, and Josh Phelgey all remained in the game through the fifth inning to face San Francisco’s lefties.
  • Billy Burns tripled in the bottom of the eighth inning. I still believe he can be a big part of the A’s offense moving forward.
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