Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
MLB: Cespedes homers as A’s beat Mariners 4-1 in Japan
MLB » Late rally an encouraging sign for run-challenged Oakland
First Published Mar 29 2012 08:46 am • Last Updated Mar 29 2012 11:55 pm

Tokyo • Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes is starting to look at home with the Oakland Athletics.

Cespedes hit his first major league home run on Thursday to power the Athletics to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners that earned Oakland a split in the two-game season-opening series at Tokyo Dome.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Cespedes, who signed a $36 million, four-year contract with Oakland on March 3, said he is starting to feel comfortable in his new surroundings.

"I wake up early every day and get to the field early and work hard because the baseball is different than in Cuba," Cespedes said.

Cespedes connected for a two-run homer off Seattle reliever Shawn Kelley (0-1) to give Oakland a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Josh Reddick followed with a solo shot off George Sherrill to give the A’s a two-run cushion.

"They tried to throw me sliders every at-bat, so I had to adjust to hit the ball," Cespedes said. "It was great to hit a home run here for the Japanese fans."

The A’s opted not to re-sign Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui after a disappointing 2011 season and are hoping Cespedes can provide more production in the middle of the order.

The late rally Thursday was an encouraging sign for Oakland, which had only scored one run in the first 17 innings of the season.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes has been showing steady improvement since joining the team at the beginning of this month.

"He’s getting more and more comfortable every day," Melvin said. "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."


story continues below
story continues below

The 26-year-old Cespedes played in Cuba’s top league for eight seasons before defecting in 2011. He starred for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, hitting .458 with two home runs and five RBIs in six games.

Ichiro Suzuki, who was 4 for 5 in Seattle’s 3-1 win over Oakland on Wednesday, was hitless in four at-bats Thursday.

Oakland starter Bartolo Colon picked up the win after striking out six and holding the Mariners to one run on three hits over eight innings. Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

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

Jonny Gomes completed the scoring in the eighth with a solo homer off reliever Steve Delabar. Seattle scored its lone run on a solo homer by Dustin Smoak in the seventh.

Even though Suzuki was quiet at the plate he excited the crowd of 43,279 in the fifth inning with a fine leaping catch up against the wall in right to take away a base hit from Kurt Suzuki.

MLB and the players’ association are using the series to assist rebuilding in Japan following last year’s earthquake and tsunami. A group of players and coaches traveled to the disaster zone on Tuesday to conduct a baseball clinic.

"The main reason we came here was because of the tsunami," Melvin said. "I know MLB has been coming every four years, but the tsunami made this trip happen for sure."

The rest of the big league teams start on April 4, when the renamed Miami Marlins open their new ballpark against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. In the meantime, the A’s and Mariners will resume playing spring training games this weekend before facing each other in Oakland on April 6.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.