A’s lose 10th straight opener, set major league record

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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.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.