Ryan, Smoak homers lead Seattle past Oakland 5-3
By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) The whirlwind of playing games on two continents and three states to begin the 2012 season had Brendan Ryan so confused he legitimately didn't know the Seattle Mariners had an off-day at home coming on Monday.
Ryan will get the needed break after accomplishing a first in his time with Seattle: actually hitting a home run at home.
"I didn't know that. Are you serious?" Ryan asked. "I don't have to show up tomorrow? That's a really happy off-day then."
Ryan hit a two-run homer in the second inning, Justin Smoak added a solo shot in the third and the Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-3 on Sunday.
Snapping streaks was the tone of the afternoon. Ryan hit his first homer before the home crowd after all three of his homers last season came on the road. Then Smoak snapped a skid of 11 straight at-bats without a hit when he lined a solo homer to right field with two outs in the third off Graham Godfrey (0-2).
Blake Beavan threw seven strong innings, making just one mistake in the fifth when Oakland's Eric Sogard hit a three-run homer. But Beavan recovered to retire nine of the final 10 batters he faced and Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.
Homers are expected to come off the bat of Smoak, who was one of the key pieces in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season. But Ryan might be the last person in Seattle's lineup expected to go deep.
After fouling off three straight 2-2 pitches, Ryan hit a shot over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field. Ryan circled the bases so quickly there was barely a chance for the crowd to acknowledge the home run. Asked if he thought his ball was out when it left the bat, Ryan emphatically expressed his doubt.
"Never here. No, not ever. Not even from second base. No. No. So, yeah, that's it. Just no," Ryan said.
Even with the homers, Seattle still needed a clutch double from Ichiro Suzuki in the fifth inning to snap a 3-all tie, and the Mariners took two of three from an A's team Seattle is tired of seeing.
The A's and Mariners opened the season in Japan in late March, then played a pair of games in Oakland on the first weekend of the regular season for everyone else and closed out the tiresome stretch of seven early-season games against one another with the series in Seattle.
For many Mariners, Monday will be the first day in Seattle with no baseball since early February.
"It's been a long stretch," Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "These guys still haven't gotten a chance to get settled in."
While the home runs provided highlights, it was Seattle taking advantage of Oakland's defensive mistakes in the fifth that became the difference in the game.
Chone Figgins walked with one out and Dustin Ackley followed with a chopper to second. Instead of making a pivot and overhand throw, Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks tried to make a back-handed flip and was well wide of the bag. Suzuki followed with a double off the wall in right for a 4-3 lead and Smoak got himself another RBI when his tapper back to the mound was initially bobbled by Godfrey, allowing Ackley to score from third without a play at the plate.
"(Weeks) knows he has to get an out there and it didn't happen," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
That was plenty for Beavan, who struck out four and didn't walk a batter. His only problem was one stretch of three batters in the top of the fifth. Kai Ka'aihue led off with a single and Anthony Recker's jersey was brushed by Beavan's inside pitch, putting two runners on with no outs. Sogard, who had just one hit in his first 11 at-bats this season, then hit his third career homer into the seats in right field.
After the homer, Beavan was terrific.
"You've got to have a short-term memory. If you give up a couple of runs and start thinking about it and not going after the guys the way you were before that you end up getting hurt and giving up more runs," Beavan said. "Once I gave up the home run I had to stop the damage right there."
NOTES: Oakland has yet to record 10 hits in any of its first 10 games this year. That matches the longest streak in Oakland history to begin a season. ... The Mariners and A's won't see each other again until late June in Seattle. ... Hall of Fame center Bill Russell threw out the first pitch on Sunday as part of the festivities honoring Jackie Robinson. Russell one-hopped his pitch to Figgins, then posed for a picture with the 5-foot-8 leadoff man.
Updated April 15, 2012