By Jason Wojciechowski on April 6, 2015 at 10:16 PM
Rangers 0, A's 8
WP: Sonny Gray (8 IP, 3 H+BB+HBP, 3 K)
Homers: Ben Zobrist, Stephen Vogt
Standings: Tied for first in the AL
The streak is over! The streak never existed. I don't believe in an "Opening Day losing streak." It doesn't exist. Streaks must involve, in my opinion, more than the same laundry. A player can have a hitting streak, and it can stretch over two seasons, two teams, etc. A team, a single team made up of a basic group of players, can have a losing streak, though I question whether that can stretch over two seasons. A franchise cannot have a losing streak of a particular type of game on a particular type of day that stretches back over five or six or seven basic iterations of the roster. That's not a streak, that's a fun fact.
So with that out of the way:
Sonny Gray had a no-hitter all the way into the eighth inning. He's good. Did you know Sonny Gray is good? He didn't miss bats (five swinging strikes) and he didn't keep the ball on the ground in any astounding way (10 of the 20 balls in play), but the contact wasn't all that hard (though when it was, the A's, especially the outfielders, caught it -- preview of a season to come, one hopes) and he kept his pitch count down by throwing strikes: 66 of 98 pitches. To put that in context, that percentage would have finished seventh among AL starting pitchers in 2014 as a full-season rate, between Corey Kluber and Masahiro Tanaka. It's not any kind of astounding, Phil Hughesian rate (73 percent in 2014; second-best among AL starters? David Price at a smidge under 70 percent -- that's a huge gap), but it'll get the job done for certain.
I'm on record (sorta? On gchat?) worrying that Ben Zobrist won't hit for enough power this year to make him more than an average player. He's in his age-34 season, after all, and he's coming off SLGs of .402 and .395 the last two years ... and he put up 9.8 rWAR total over those two years, so I clearly don't know what the hell I'm talking about. The man doesn't need to slug to be an enormously valuable player because of all the other things he does. I'm done worrying. The big homer in his first at-bat as an Athletic also helped.
Stephen Vogt's homer was a lot of fun, and was exactly how you expect his homers to go with that goofy golf swing of his, a high, arcing looper down the right field line that had plenty of distance but even more height, and the only question was whether it would stay fair.
Sometimes managers like to "get their closer into the game" on Opening Day just for the hell of it, apparently, and I'm glad Bob Melvin resisted that urge with an eight-run lead, instead turning to his mopup man, the leader of my "Fringes of the 40-Man Roster" page, Evan Scribner. He did fine. How could he not do fine? It was an eight-run lead.
Game 2 features Colby Lewis against Jesse Hahn. Lewis led the league in losses last year and didn't pitch in 2013 after a very fine 2 1/2-year run from 2010 to 2012 (506 innings, 113 ERA+). Hahn's one of the myriad new guys, and I'm excited to see him for the first time.
(Jason, don't you watch spring training? He pitched like 100 times in spring training.)
(I don't watch spring training. It probably makes me a bad blogger, but I just can't deal with it.)