Oakland, CA – Blame it on the two new video boards or the swift “willing and dealing” by General Manager Billy Bean this offseason. The A’s overcame an obstacle that had been their achilles heel for the last ten years. Three Oakland managers Ken Macha, Bob Geren and Bob Melvin have fallen victim to losing on Opening Day.
“This will be my fourth opening day and we haven’t won one yet,” said Melvin. “It does bother me. You really want to enjoy and embrace opening day but I really would like to get this losing streak out of the way”
The ten-year losing skid (on Opening Day) ended tonight, in fact, not only did the A’s shutout the Texas Rangers 8-0. Sonny Gray was a gem on the mound pitching a no-hitter through eight innings. He allowed on hit to Ryan Rua who leadoff the eighth with a single to right field. The crowd rose to their feet chanting “Sonny, Sonny, Sonny” and gave him a standing ovation when he walked off the mound.
“That was a big monkey we needed to get off our back,” Melvin explained. And to do it in the fashion we did tonight was terrific. It’s really nice to get that win.”
Gray finished the night with one walk and struck out three. His pitch count was at 98. One mistake, leaving a fastball over the plate a little too long was the deciding factor of Rua breaking up his “no-no”. But Gray wouldn’t change a thing. He knew he was in a zone and that one pitch he wouldn’t take back.
“There in the eighth, I didn’t feel like I made a bad pitch,” said Gray. “I was maybe a little tired, left a few pitches up, but the hit, he put a great swing on it and hit he ball into right field. But I wouldn’t take that pitch back.”
“He was throwing all his pitches,” Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “He was commanding his fastball and throwing his pitches for strikes. He pitched great game.”
A team full of new faces did not disappoint. Ben Zobrist recorded his first home run as an Athletic in the first. He followed Sam Fuld’s one-out triple with a two-run shot to left field giving Oakland a 2-0 lead. The A’s added two more runs to pull away from the Rangers in the fourth. And never looked back as the hits kept coming.
“For the fans that maybe didn’t know how well we were in Spring Training,” Zobrist said. “They were able to see what this team’s capable of. The game is a lot harder than we made it look tonight.”
Ike Davis leadoff the fourth with a free pass. Stephen Vogt doubled to left field moving Davis to third. Marcus Semien drove in Davis on a bloop single to center field making it a 3-0 game. Then on a wild pitch, Vogt scored. In the seventh, Vogt hit a three-run homer to extend Oakland’s lead 7-0. Billy Butler scored in Eric Sogard in the eight making it a 8-0 game.
For years the A’s needed a power hitter but from the looks of tonight’s game the team is well on their way to have a success season. The defense was superb keeping Texas frustrated throughout the game. A crucial call in the fifth didn’t result in scoring in any runs but kept the momentum login of Oakland.
Butler grounded into a force out to shortstop Elvis Andrus to second baseman Rougned Odor. Fuld slid into second and was tagged out by Odor who never had the ball to tag him out. The A’s challenged the call and it was overturned. The result a Fielder’ Choice, E-6. Pitcher Anthony Bass walked Davis, loading the bases with one out. But Vogt struck out stranding all three.
“I think we have more consistent power throughout our lineup,” said Vogt. “We may not have a 30-home run guy like we’ve had in the last couple of years. You’re going to miss that kind of power. That’s a special power. But up and down the lineup, you’re going to see guys hunting for 10 or 15 home runs.”