What must one of us have been drinking when he picked the Oakland Athletics to win the American League West - and no, it wasn't you.
Two games into the 2011 season, the Seattle Mariners have beaten Oakland twice with fundamentally sound - no, marvelous! - games. And the Athletics haven't hit and appear to have the yips on defense. Six errors in 18 innings?
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“This was like the missing key from last year,” second baseman Jack Wilson said. “We’re using our speed, we’re bunting guys over, doing the little things that put us in position to win games. Do that enough, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
The theory of pressuring the defense has worked well if not perfectly in Oakland. Milton Bradley singled with two outs in the sixth inning tonight, stole second base and was thus in position to score on a Jack Cust single. And in the ninth inning?
Wilson singled and Michael Saunders bunted him to second. Pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo singled Wilson to third, and Ichiro became the Mariners all-time hits leader with an 89-foot RBI single hit off the end of his bat.
Before the inning was over, there was a wild pitch, an Ichiro stolen base - his third of a season two games old - and a sacrifice fly.
Call it 'Wedgie ball.' The manager thought Ichiro's tie-breaking, record-setting single was a worthy game-winner.
“We got the game to Ichiro there, and he did what he does – he made something happen,” Eric Wedge said.
Ichiro talked about passing Edgar Martinez.
“I played with him, and that was important for me,” Ichiro said. “Edgar is a treasure to me. I did not set out to set this record. The numbers say I have the record, but it was not my goal.”
Someone asked if he considered himself a student of hitting, and Ichiro went zen on him.
“I am a student of hitting, I am a student of playing the outfield, of bunting and base-running …” he said.
In two games, the Mariners hav also been teachers, instructing the Athletics on the fine art of playing good defense behind solid pitching and scrapping like hell for runs.
Oh, and one of us is wishing he could change his pick in the AL West.