The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners traveled to Tokyo, Japan to open up the 2019 season the Tokyo Dome, and early this morning, the first game took place.
The game, which saw the first pitch thrown at roughly 4:35 AM local time, featured a very interesting matchup. Both teams feature a cheaper pitching rotation without a bonafide ace, so the Athletics sent journeyman starter Mike Fiers to the mound against Mariners up and coming left hander Marco Gonzalez. However, what really got the Tokyo Dome rocking was the return on 45 year old Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro played 10 years in Japan before coming over to the Mariners in 2001, where he became an MVP and perennial all star right away. It was the first time since 2008 that Ichiro played a regular season game in Japan.
“I think it is so cool that Ichiro got to play in front of his home country what could be one last time. He is 45 after all, he can not play forever,” junior Tommy Flores said.
Scoring was kicked off right away on this one, as Athletics right fielder Stephen Piscotty got a hold of a 1-1 pitch by Gonzalez that he took deep to center field for the first home run of the 2019 season. The A’s would add on to that almost right away, when shortstop Marcus Semien singled to left to bring in Chad Pinder, notching Oakland up by 2 early. However, the third inning is where the Mariners ultimately took the lead for good, scoring five runs. Dee Gordon singled in a run, and was moved over to third after Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion were both put on base, bringing up left fielder Domingo Santana. Santana, who was in his first game with the Mariners, turned on a 0-1 pitch from Fiers to the opposite field, and snuck it over the 16 foot right field wall in the Tokyo dome. The blast made it a 5-2 game heading into the 4th.
“I think the Mariners are going to be underrated this season. They subtracted a lot, sure. But, they got back more than what people really think,” junior Alex Vaughn said.
Despite a solo shot from 2018 home run leader Khris Davis in the bottom half, the Mariners kept adding from there. Mitch Haniger drove in Tim Beckham in the 5th to make it 6-4 game, which was followed up by a Ryon Healy RBI double in the 6th. Beckham proceeded to drive in two more on a home run that was launched to left field off of pitcher Ryan Dull, to which Beckham proceeded to toss his bat towards the third base dugout in celebration. Matt Chapman got one back for Oakland in the 7th with a solo shot to right field off of Mariners pitcher Nick Rumbelow, which ended up finalizing the score at 9-7. The Seattle starter, Gonzalez, ended up getting the win in this one, leaving Fiers to be handed the loss. Mainer closer Hunter Strickland locked down the save, striking out two of the three batters he faced. The save was the first of the season.
The two go against each other again tomorrow morning at 4:35, and then the regular season will take a week off before the other 28 teams play meaningful baseball, starting on March 28th.