Oakland, CA – Opening Day is always a time to start anew. But for the A’s, the unfortunate happened. Staring pitcher Sonny Gray was a late scratch due to food poisoning and Rich Hill got the call. Hill made his first career Opening Day start and lasted only two innings.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale gave up three runs over seven frames but the White Sox defense held Oakland scoreless through the last two innings to beat the A’s 4-3 at the Coliseum. Chicago had an outburst in the third scoring four runs and got shut down by Oakland’s bullpen for the remainder of the game.
“It was just the deep counts I got myself into and the inability to go deep in the game,” Hill said. “That’s disappointing for myself and obviously the reason why we lost the game.”
Hill lost his command, giving up four runs in the third. He issued a free pass to Austin Jackson who advanced to third on a throwing error by Hill. Adam Eaton followed with a RBI triple to put the White Sox on the board 1-0. Jimmy Rollins then drove in Eaton with a single to extend their lead to 2-0.
Melky Cabrera singled up the middle and drove in two more runs when shortstop Marcus Semien over threw first baseman Mark Canha for the out. Chicago knocked Hill off the mound and was replaced by Fernando Rodriguez. After giving up a single to Avisail Garcia, Rodriguez struck out Brett Lawrie to end the frame.
“I elected to try to stay on the bag, catch the ball, and the inning would have been over with just two runs coming in,” said Canha. “If I’d come off the bag to make the catch, probably one run scores. It was a tough decision. If I’m in that situation, I’m going to try and make the play.”
Hill gave up four runs on three hits, walked two, struck out three and hit two batters. The A’s bounced back bottom of the inning. Sale gave up four singles and one walk. Jed Lowrie’s RBI single drove in two runs and cut the lead in half. Then Danny Valencia followed with a RBI single to make it a 4-3 game.
After the White Sox explosive frame, Oakland’s bullpen retired the next 11 batters until Jackson had a base hit in the seventh. The A’s had opportunities in both the eighth and ninth innings. But were unsuccessful in moving the leadoff man past first. Closer Sean Doolittle did his part retiring the first two batters in the ninth.
But Chicago challenged Lawrie was out after being caught stealing second. The replay showed him being picked off at first by Dolittle, the ruling on the field was Lawrie was out and Oakland had their chance. White Sox closer David Robertson walked Coco Crisp but retired the next three batters.
“That’s what happens when you give extra outs, can’t do that,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We learned that last year. We’ve learned it this spring. In close games, it typically ends up being a play like that, a play or two defensively that you should make. We’ve talked about the routine plays and we don’t execute the one play that cost us two runs, cost us the game.”
Oakland has lost 11 of their past 12 Opening Day games. That includes their Major
League record 10-game Opening Day losing streak that they snapped last year. A’s
are now 5-18 on Opening Day dating back to 1994. Hill became the fourth oldest
pitcher in Oakland History and the fifth oldest in Athletics history at age 36.