March 29: Back Home and Opening Night in Oakland

Game 2 on Thursday, March 29 in Tokyo began just after 6:00 p.m. The final out was recorded about 8:30 p.m. The A’s boarded a flight at 11:30 p.m. and headed to Oakland. The flight landed about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 – the same day as Game 2 and 30 minutes before the first pitch. The International Date Line makes for interesting time shifts.

Back in Oakland, the A’s are happy to be home and thankful for a terrific visit to Japan to open the 2012 Major League Baseball season. Fans can catch the A’s at home in Oakland for the first time in an exhibition contest against the Giants on Tuesday, April 3 at 7:35 p.m. Opening Night in Oakland is Friday, April 6 at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Seattle Mariners, with the Mariners and A’s playing again Saturday, April 7 at 6:05 p.m. Be sure to get your tickets now. Let’s Go A’s!

 

March 29: Game 2 – The Comeback Kids

As the A’s continued game 2, they came alive.

“Please watch out for batted balls.” A sign of things to come.

The crowd starts “the wave,” possibly invented at an Oakland A’s game by “Krazy” George Henderson in 1981.

Coco Crisp draws some attention at first base. He’s forced at second on a Kurt Suzuki grounder with Suzuki then at first base. But perhaps the distraction was done…

…as the next batter, Yoenis Cespedes, hits a two-run bomb for his first career home run in the Major Leagues.

Scoring in front of Cespedes is Suzuki, who congratulates him at home.

Suzuki is all smiles for his teammate.

With the A’s up 2-1, the rest of the team congratulates Cespedes in the dugout.

Following a Seattle pitching change, Josh Reddick makes it back-to-back home runs with a solo shot.

An inning later, Jonny Gomes hits his first home run of the season to extend the A’s lead to 4-1.

The view of the dugout as Grant Balfour enters the game to close it out for the A’s.

Balfour pitches a 1-2-3 inning.

The A’s go on to victory for their first win of the 2012 Major League Baseball season.

The A’s head back to the clubhouse to prepare for a flight…

…but not before Bartolo Colon and Yoenis Cespedes are interviewed as the players of the game. There is a lot of translation occurring as the Spanish speaking ballplayers are asked a question in Japanese, which is translated to English, which is then translated to Spanish by interpreter Ariel Prieto, answered in Spanish by the player, the answer recounted in English by Prieto, and finally translated to Japanese for the predominantly Japanese crowd.

Colon, as the winning pitcher, is given the “Fighting-Spirit Award.”

Cespedes, whose first career home run put the A’s ahead 2-1, is selected as the “Most Valuable Player” of the game.

Before leaving the Tokyo Dome field for the last time, our friends from yesterday are back with an updated message to Kurt Suzuki.

One final note about the Tokyo Dome. If able to visit, be sure to check out the Star Memorial Plate on the concourse…

…and the plaque for Oakland’s own MC Hammer.

March 29: Game 2

It’s the ultimate “getaway day.” That’s when a team departs a city after a game. The A’s not only depart a city, they depart a country today. First thing’s first, game 2 of the 2012 Major League Baseball regular season.

The team is checked out of The New Otani, A’s flag waving goodbye.

Following an artistic pregame ceremony…

…and spectacular national anthems…

…it’s time to play ball!

Tonight’s scoreboard inside the Tokyo Dome.

 

 

Bartolo Colon has pitched well, but so has Seattle’s Jason Vargas.

 

 

The A’s defense has been great, but so has Seattle’s.

 

A’s coming to bat in the bottom of the 7th inning, down 1-0 on Justin Smoak’s solo home run in the top of the inning.

March 27: Wrapping Up Opening Night

The A’s went down 3-1 in 11 innings to the Mariners in the first game of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. The A’s play once more at the Tokyo Dome tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. in Tokyo (2:05 a.m. Pacific Time). The game can again be HEARD LIVE on 95.7 FM THE GAME and MLB.com Gameday Audio and SEEN LIVE on MLB Network television at 2:00 a.m. PT with replays at 6:00 a.m. PT and 7:00 p.m. PT. Following tomorrow’s game, the A’s head back to the United States to prepare for Opening Night in Oakland on Friday, April 6 against the same Seattle Mariners.

Some wrap up photos to end the night in Tokyo…

Starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy was solid.

The bullpen, including Ryan Cook, was also solid.

Not every foul ball was reachable, but everyone hustled to them.

The team pushed the running game.

The people of Japan love Kurt Suzuki.

Based on the amount of camera flashes and recording red lights visible during Ichiro’s at bats, he was probably the most popular player on the field tonight among the fans in attendance.

March 27: Game Update

It’s now the middle of the game. Here’s an update…

The on-field logo.

Upon entering the dugout, A’s players and coaches shake hands and wish each other good luck.

Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes have a spectacular handshake.

The team awaits pregame presentations.

Stomper and Josh Reddick chest bump.

Your 2012 Oakland Athletics!

The team watches emotional videos of tsumani heroes.

The A’s stand during the national anthems of the United States of America and Japan.

Children from yesterday’s visit to Ishinomaki take the field with the A’s in the top of the 1st inning.

Fans cheer wildly for Ichiro.

Brandon McCarthy’s on the mound for the A’s…

…and Felix Hernandez for the Mariners.

Dustin Ackley put the Mariners up 1-0 with a home run…

…but doubles by Cliff Pennington and Kurt Suzuki tied the game 1-1.

It’s the top of the 7th, with the score tied at 1-1.

March 27: It’s Opening Night!

A’s fans! It’s still pregame, but check the scene outside the Tokyo Dome and the warm ups on the field. The A’s are finished batting practice. Just two hours until first pitch. Happy Opening Night everyone!

Opening Series is sold out.

The scene outside the Tokyo Dome as ticketed fans waited in line to enter.

The end of the line.

We spy a couple A’s fans.

And a couple more.

A’s clubhouse manager Steve Vucinich is interviewed by Chris Townsend. “Vuc” has been with the Oakland A’s since the first game in 1968. Listen to Townsend pregame and postgame TODAY on 95.7 FM THE GAME.

Mickey Morabito, Director of Team Travel, on-field during pregame. This is his 41st Opening Day. He started as a bat boy with the Yankees.

Pregame BP.

Let’s get this started. LET’S GO A’s!

 

March 27: Visit to U.S. Embassy

Earlier today A’s and Mariners staff and players were welcomed to the U.S. Embassy by John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. A’s President Michael Crowley, GM Billy Beane, and players Coco Crisp, Brian Fuentes, and Cliff Pennington presented Mr. Roos with an autographed Athletics jersey.

 

 

March 27: Visit to Ishinomaki

The A’s and Mariners teamed up with Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association to visit Ishinomaki, a city about two hours north of Tokyo by bus and train. Ishinomaki was heavily damaged during the 2011 tsunami. Nearly 5,000 residents lost their lives and more than 50,000 were left homeless. Damaged areas are still being cleared and reminders of the damage are plentiful, from rows upon rows of stacked vehicles to a meat company canister that lays between two streets. View photos of the devastation below, then see the players’ visit to the Ishinomaki stadium, which received a $500,000 check for renovations to the damaged field, which was used as a staging area for local relief efforts. These Little Leaguers, who attended a clinic by players, will again have a place to play baseball. Read more about the visit to Ishinomaki from Doug Miller.

Travel to Ishinomaki is by bus and train.

The damaged area of Ishinomaki was moving to witness.

Upon reaching the ballpark, the excited children were a wonderful sight to see. Players Tommy Milone, Tyson Ross, and Evan Scribner, along with special assistant Phil Garner, held clinics with local Little Leaguers, Stomper entertained the kids, and the players helped serve soup to kids and their families.

Back in Tokyo later in the day, both the A’s and Mariners were invited to an Opening Series event, held by Yomiuri. Billy Beane and Kurt Suzuki were among A’s officials to help break saki barrels in a ceremony to bring good luck to the season.

Just after midnight in Tokyo, it’s officially Opening Day! First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. in Japan, 3:10 a.m. Pacific Time. The game vs. the Seattle Mariners can be heard live on 95.7 FM The Game and MLB.com Gameday Audio. The game can be seen on tape delay on MLB Network at 6:00 a.m. PT and again at 7:00 p.m. PT. Let’s Go A’s!

March 26: Oakland Athletics vs. Hanshin Tigers

Monday afternoon in Tokyo the A’s played an exhibition against the Hanshin Tigers, another of Japan’s popular professional baseball teams. The Tigers defeated the A’s 12-6. Check out the highlights and extras below.

 

Back to the Tokyo Dome, the grounds crew looks on before the start of the game.

 

The scoreboard with today’s lineups.

 

A young fans shows off his Cliff Pennington autographed baseball.

 

A home run helped the Tigers jump out to a lead.

 

And close plays at the plate extended that lead.

 

The A’s battled back, assisted by Kurt Suzuki’s second home run in as many games.

 

Tigers’ fans are very vocal throughout the game.

 

A pop up to second base completes the win for Hanshin.

 

A tidbit from the Tigers, in the game was a player wearing 00…

 

…and a player wearing 0.

 

Speaking of 00, the Tigers’ mascot wants to see if Stomper will hang out.

 

But not before he performs some backflips first.

 

Stomper makes many friends at the Tokyo Dome.

 

 

Stomper says hello to Farhan Zaidi, A’s Director of Baseball Operations.

 

Stomper and Chris Townsend of 95.7 FM The Game share a hug and pose for Chris’ camera.

 

At the end of the exhibition game, A’s General Manager Billy Beane is interviewed by Comcast SportsNet California. The next game counts as the A’s open the Major League Baseball season Wednesday, March 28 against the Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome!

 

March 25: Air Force Base Visit

The A’s lead off Sunday with a visit to Yakota Air Force Base. See the photos below and read more about the visit here.

A’s players greet the incoming helicopter.

Jemile Weeks poses in front of a helicopter.

Off the ground, the view over Tokyo from the helicopter.

Seth Smith enjoying the flight.

Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Collin Cowgill, and Josh Reddick host an outfielders clinic for youth at the base.

Jerry Blevins works with the younger kids.

Brian Fuentes and Jerry Blevins teach the fundamentals on pitching.

Players hold an autograph session with kids.

Josh Reddick presents a jersey to the Air Force base commander. Reddick’s grandfather served in the U.S. Air Force.

Cliff Pennington and Seth Smith eat lunch with members of the Air Force base…

…as do other A’s players.

A’s players and team executives pose with the helicopter pilots.

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