A's pitchers plagued by long ball in opener

A's pitchers plagued by long ball in opener

A's pitchers plagued by long ball in opener
PHOENIX -- The long ball dictated the first game of the Cactus League season Friday, as the Mariners relied on five against the A's for an 8-5 victory at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Outfielders Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero and Johermyn Chavez, second baseman Luis Rodriguez and catcher Jesus Montero were responsible for the damage.

Saunders, suddenly competing for the starting center-field role in the wake of Franklin Gutierrez's injury, took right-hander Graham Godfrey deep in the second inning to right-center field, scoring Alex Liddi from second. Two innings later, Montero reached on a fielding error by second baseman Jemile Weeks that proved costly, as Peguero launched a homer off lefty Tommy Milone minutes later.

Rodriguez's homer against righty Grant Balfour led off the fifth, and Montero followed with a two-run shot. The Seattle catcher, acquired in the trade that sent right-hander Michael Pineda to the Yankees this winter, exited in the bottom half of the frame after taking a hard foul tip to his face mask. The extent of his injury was not immediately known.

For the A's, Coco Crisp tallied an RBI single in the first off Seattle rotation candidate Blake Beavan, following Weeks' leadoff double. And in the fifth, Oakland first-base candidate Brandon Allen doubled off Shawn Kelly and, after moving to third on a passed ball, scored on Weeks' groundout. Non-roster invitee Wes Timmons narrowed Seattle's lead to three with a two-run base hit in the sixth.

"You just try to throw the ball down and try to get them to hit it to left field," Beavan said. "It just felt good to get out there the first time and get that game feeling again and just throw a bunch of pitches today."

Friday's contest brought out 6,316 fans, who were also treated to two at-bats by DH Manny Ramirez. The veteran slugger went 0-for-2, grounding out both times in his A's debut.

"I never got to face Manny," Beavan said. "And for me growing up watching him do all those great things, seeing him, it looks like he's in great shape and trying to make that team over there. It's a good thing I got him to hit into a double play, because without double-play depth, that probably was a single. That was another thing that surprised me, how quick his hands were. That ball was six inches off the plate inside and he still managed to get it up the middle pretty good."

UP NEXT: The A's will run out another rotation candidate for Saturday's 12:05 PT contest against the Mariners in Peoria, with right-hander Tyson Ross getting the starting nod. Also slated to take the mound is top pitching prospect Jarrod Parker, who was the key piece in the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Meanwhile, expect another offseason acquisition, Jonny Gomes, to assume designated-hitter duties against Mariners starter Hector Noesi.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.