It sweltering out there in the bleachers in the Oakland Coliseum this afternoon — good pitching weather for A’s starter Tim Hudson, who threw 86 pitches in nine innings and dropped the Seattle Mariners to 0-5 on the season.
This story says Hudson was 6-0 in daytime starts last year. It looked like his luck was running out out when Mariners’ phenom Ichiro Suzuki popped the game’s first pitch into the right field corner for a double.
We’re thinking: Hmm, a double on the first pitch is not a good omen. Couple batters later and Suzuki is across the plate to put the Mariners up 1-0. Then future hall-of-famer Edgar Martinez gets on base with aging-but-able John Olerud behind him and it looks like they’re about to put the hurt on Hudson. But Olerud went nowhere — Hudson pitched his way out of that jam, and that’s all the damage the Mariners could muster.
The A’s are off to a great start at 4-1, but it was a long hard slog besting the Mariners today. The Mariners’ starter, Gil Meche, stranded all sorts of A’s batters on base, but I noticed as the game wore on that he was throwing a lot more pitches than Hudson. His arm failed him in the 7th, when Erubial Durazo singled and Marco Scutaro (are those great names or what?) doubled to score Durazo. Meche got benched, but the luck of lefty reliever Eddie Guardado wasn’t much better. Mark Kotsay singled to left to score Scutaro and give the A’s the go-ahead run. It was all they needed.
I can’t believe my luck: this is my second A’s game ever and they’ve won both. And remarkable things have happened in both. Last year an A’s batter hit a grand slam — the first time I’d ever seen it happen when I was in the ballpark. This time, Hudson pitches superbly for nine innings and throws, on average, fewer than 10 pitches per inning. Not a no-hitter or anything but still an impressive day on the pitcher’s mound.
It’s also been incredibly warm both times I’ve gone to A’s games. Last fall, it was in the 90s with no breeze. Today it was in the ’80s with only a bit of a breeze. We’d be lobsters if not for all that sunscreen.
The great thing about the bleachers is that they attract a certain kind of fan — someone who needs to be in the ballpark for lots of games but doesn’t want to shell out 30 bucks for a seat closer to the action. They seem to understand what the guys on that field are doing is play — not work. It’s supposed to be fun to do, and fun to watch. And something about it being the cheap seats seals the deal.
This was the A’s opening weekend at home, and lots of folks who hadn’t seen each other since last fall were swapping friendly hugs with the bleacherites they rooted alongside last summer. The sun was so merciless that we had to duck out to the concession area — which had a wonderful breeze blowing across a million tons of concrete — for a couple innings, but we got back just in time for the A’s game-winning drama.
Definitely on my “let’s do this again this summer” list.