One game into the season, the Oakland Athletics are already dealing with an injury to a key player.
This season did not get off to a very promising start for the A’s, as they failed to get a runner to third base and lost their starting shortstop in a 4-0 loss to the Orioles on Monday.
Oakland had plenty of chances, but stranded two runners each from the second through the fifth innings.
“The first day is over,” third baseman Eric Chavez said. “It doesn’t matter whether we won 12-0 or lost 12-0, it’s over. Opening day is fun for the fans, but now it’s time to play baseball. We’ve got 161 left.”
Most disturbing for the A’s was a back injury that forced Crosby, the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year, to leave in the fifth.
“I had no shot. I was trying to swing in the on-deck circle. Every swing hurt,” Crosby said.
With Crosby not expected to play Wednesday, Marco Scutaro, who went 1-for-2 as his replacement Monday, will likely get the start at shortstop.
“Any time you have something with your back, it basically controls everything. We need him back,” Oakland’s Mark Kotsay said.
Crosby’s injury isn’t the only one that has the A’s concerned.
Rich Harden was originally schedule to start Wednesday, but has been pushed back to Sunday against Tampa Bay because of a blister on his right middle finger. Harden, signed to a four-year extension Saturday, is being counted on to help fill the void left by the departure of starters Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Harden said. “Everyone wants to talk about the contract, like, ‘Aren’t you excited? You don’t seem excited?’ Well, it’s hard to be excited about anything right now. I’m a pitcher. I want to pitch. But right now I can’t.”
Taking Harden’s place on Wednesday will be right-hander Kirk Saarloos, who won the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but wasn’t going to join the team until just before his first scheduled start Saturday.
While the A’s didn’t enjoy their first game of the season, the Orioles certainly did.
“That’s the perfect game plan right there,” first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. “You put together a few runs, you pitch well, you play good defense and you win, 4-0.”
Sammy Sosa was 2-for-4 in his Orioles debut and helped inspire his new teammates
“Sammy, he’s a special player,” Palmeiro said. “You can see by the reaction of the fans, especially out in right field. They embraced him like he’s been here for a long time.”
The only bad news for the Orioles was a back injury that forced catcher Javy Lopez to leave the game in the seventh inning. Lopez, who had a similar problem in spring training, expects to play Wednesday.
“I got out of the game so I could get treatment and be ready for Wednesday,” Lopez said. “It’s nothing serious.”
STANDINGS (through April 4): Athletics - 4th place, 1 GB, AL West. Orioles - 1st place (tied), AL East.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Saarloos (2-1, 4.44 ERA). The right-hander made five starts for Oakland last season, his last coming at Texas on July 29. He lasted only 2 1-3 innings in that game and allowed five runs and seven hits. Saarloos has never faced the Orioles.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Daniel Cabrera (12-8, 5.00 ERA). The 6-foot-7 right-hander was a pleasant surprise for the Orioles last season, winning 12 games and finishing third in the rookie of the year voting. Cabrera was Baltimore’s best pitcher in spring training, going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 22 innings. He made one start against Oakland in 2004, allowing five runs and four hits in 2 2-3 innings.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Athletics - Scutaro and Crosby, .500 avg. Orioles - Sosa, .500 avg.; Matos, 1 HR and 2 RBIs; four with 1 run.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Athletics - Oakland hasn’t lost a season series to the Orioles since 1998. … 3B Chavez is hitting .320 with 16 home runs and 33 RBIs in 54 games against Baltimore. … DH Erubiel Durazo batted .444 with four HRs and 11 RBIs against Baltimore last season, including a three-run HR off Cabrera. Orioles - SS Miguel Tejada is hitting .258 (4-for-27) with no HRs and two RBIs in eight games against Oakland, his former team. … Baltimore has lost 14 of its last 17 games against Oakland. … Sosa is 5-for-21 (.238) against A’s closer Octavio Dotel, but three of the hits are HRs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Athletics - 0-1 on the road; Orioles - 1-0 at home.
INJURIES: Athletics - SS Crosby (back), day-to-day; RHP Chad Bradford (back), 15-day DL. Orioles - OF Val Majewski (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Grimsley (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL.