Opening Game 2012

            Ichiro goes 4 for 5 at the Tokyo Dome! Film at 11!

            But, I’d kind of like to see the replay on that infield single in the fourth. Albeit he didn’t get the call, Cliff Pennington made a sensational play on a soft line the one-hopped the hole, flashing a lightning-quick transition to skim a perfect strike off the turf on a bang-bang play at first base. But, Ichiro got the safe call. The Tokyo Dome giveth. The Tokyo Dome taketh away.

            Pennington has become quite a story for the A’s, though. No doubt, it’s the dichotomy. He’s at once a throwback player, as well as the epitome of the modern Moneyball era in Oakland.

            As the poster boy for the A’s billboard adverts in 2011, Pennington seemed an unlikely choice. Yet, across the board, the 2011 A’s were a low-profile ensemble of unlikely players. And, while Pennington hasn’t exactly emerged as a big-league star, he has established himself as one of the premier iron men in the game. Over the last two seasons, he has appeared in 304 games – all but one as the team’s shortstop.

            Defense aside – it’s tough to portray his Gold Glove tools accurately after he led the American League in errors in 2010 – the big vault for Pennington is to the top of the batting order. He impressed in today’s opener out of the No. 2 spot, going 2 for 5 while scoring Oakland’s only run in a 3-1 loss.

            But, you’ve got to wonder if Pennington might be an option to hit third in the lineup. Despite hitting for just a .260 career average, last season he hit .348 with runners in scoring position. And, for what it’s worth, he went 2 for 3 in his only game as Oakland’s No. 3 hitter. In defense of Coco Crisp, though, he didn’t do too badly in that department either, hitting .298 with RISP last year, and career-wise has outslugged Pennington by 30 points.

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