The A’s have certainly been a rather successful franchise the last 10 years, going to three postseasons and never losing more than 88 games. While the timeframe doesn’t include their extremely successful 2000-03 run, they’re still 45 games over .500 since the beginning of 2005.
It just doesn’t happen for them on Opening Day.
On Monday, they lost their 10th straight opener, dropping a 2-0 game to the Indians. They’re the first franchise in major league history to take a loss in their first game 10 consecutive years.
Tonight’s game, a pitcher’s duel between Sonny Gray and Justin Masterson, was scoreless in the eighth, when Josh Donaldson hit a ball off the very top of the wall in center field. Three inches more and it would have been a homer. Instead, it was one of the longest singles in history (just to the right of the 400 foot sign at the Coliseum), as the runners on first and second returned to the bag to tag up and advanced only one base. Cody Allen then pitched out of the bases-loaded jam, striking out Jed Lowrie and inducing a grounder from Brandon Moss.
A’s closer Jim Johnson went on to take the loss in the ninth after retiring just one of the five batters he faced.
The last time the A’s won an opener was 2004 against the Rangers. Tim Hudson started that game for Oakland, and Eric Byrnes had the big hit in the bottom of the eighth, turning a one-run deficit into a lead with a two-run double.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.