A woeful offense was the problem for the Oakland Athletics as they faded from contention last year. A revamped heart of their lineup didn’t immediately solve that problem.
With uncertainty surrounding their young pitchers, the A’s will likely need major improvement from their bats if they hope to contend with Los Angeles, which has won four of the last five AL West titles.
But Holliday and Giambi were a combined 1-for-7 in Monday’s season opener as the A’s fell 3-0. Former Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra also made their Oakland debuts, and Cabrera’s double was the team’s only extra-base hit.
The A’s managed just three hits off left-hander Joe Saunders and a trio of relievers en route to dropping their fifth straight season opener. Oakland has been shut out three times in those games.
“That gives us a big lift, especially when some of the guys we’re counting on (in the rotation) are not available now,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It was a great effort. (Saunders’) stuff was alive, and he was right on the money.”
With injuries decimating the Angels’ rotation, Dustin Moseley will get Tuesday’s start even though the right-hander had a 2-4 record and 6.79 ERA in 12 appearances for Los Angeles last year.
The team will continue to rely on strong defense behind its makeshift rotation after only three Oakland batters were retired by strikeouts on Monday. Howie Kendrick made the game’s only error, but made up for it with a home run and RBI single.
Slugger Vladimir Guerrero also had two hits, including an RBI single.
“I don’t think you could ask for more,” Kendrick said of the win.
The Angels will look for another victory against Cahill, a 21-year-old right-hander who has risen swiftly through the minor leagues. He has never pitched in Triple-A, and made just seven appearances for Double-A Midland last year, compiling a 6-1 record and 2.19 ERA.
The sinkerballer struggled in his last spring start, giving up three runs in the first inning Thursday in San Francisco.
“I felt, personally, just trying to get used to pitching in a big league stadium,” Cahill said. “Looking around … it was an adrenaline rush.”
He faced off against Giants ace Tim Lincecum in that start, drawing praise from the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, but A’s manager Bob Geren said he’s more comparable to the pitcher who finished second to Lincecum in last year’s voting.
“He can throw anywhere from 88 to 95 miles an hour,” Geren said. “He throws a hard sinker, similar stuff to Brandon Webb. That’s his main pitch. I’m saying Webb is the kind of pitcher he can be.”