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Extras

So much for my early morning nap. The A’s and Red Sox plug on into extra innings in the opener. First time the A’s have gone extras in the opener since 1987, when they lost in 10 innings at Minnesota. That portended an 0-5 start in a season that eventually ended 81-81.

The A’s would like to avoid the former this time, but the latter would sure qualify as a success.

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Blown save

Well, looks like this one could be going deep into the night — er, late into the afternoon. Brandon Moss — that “some guy named Moss,” as I referred to him in an earlier e-mail — just homered off Huston Street in the ninth.

Street’s 76 saves are the fifth-most ever by a player whose 24 years old or younger, but he now has 21 blown saves, too. He needs to be way more consistent. He missed location and left one down-and-in, and of course, any lefty will tell you what they think of pitches in that area.

Street can only hope this doesn’t set the tone for his season. Incidentally, Street just gave up a long blast foul to Jacoby Ellsbury. Does not look at all sharp.

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Seventh-inning stretch

Stretch time in the A’s opener, and that takes on added meaning when it takes place at 5:26 a.m. Imagine quite a few folks are waking up and stretching right about now.

Anyway, this seems a good time to address the subject of starting the season in Japan. Bud Selig served up his usual blather earlier this morning, lauding the internationalization of the game, its popularity, blah, blah, blah. And he has a point.

That said, I’m not crazy about the season starting overseas. I don’t see the trend stopping, because there’s no other time to play such contests — middle of the season doesn’t work — and in a world that’s growing smaller and smaller, for a giant corporation like Major League Baseball to ignore potential growth revenues around the globe would be ludicrous.

If it means the die-hard fan has to get up at 3 a.m. to watch the game live, so be it. If not, well, the games are on tape delayed, and it’s easy to avoid a result if you really want to. Can’t really schedule the games to be played in prime time in the U.S., because then you’re playing in the middle of the night over in Japan.

All in all, it’s a necessary evil. Don’t have to be crazy about it — and again, I’m not — but it’s not going away.

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Eric who?

Jack Hannahan is the first guy since 1998 not named Eric Chavez to start at the hot corner for the A’s on Opening Day (it was Dave Magadan that year, which should give you an idea of how bad that club was). Already he made a nice catch near the railing on the third-base line to briefly put off a Red Sox rally. Now, he’s crushed one into the seats in right with no outs in the sixth to put the A’s ahead 4-3.

Hannahan is a great story. A former alcoholic who nearly drank away some remarkable athletic ability earlier in his life. Straightened up, spiritual and reaping the benefits now.

Nice story, now matter how this game winds up.

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BoSox roar back

You had to see this coming. The A’s with the numerous wasted opportunities early, no longer have their two-run lead. The Red Sox have roared back with three runs in the sixth, and Joe Blanton is departing.

Blanton deserved better. More runs for one. Better defense for another. Travis Buck was unable to pull in a drive by Dustin Pedroia in right field to start the sixth, and things have unraveled from there. If the A’s don’t make all the defensive plays that are presented or cash in on chances, this year will be just as long as anticipated.

Of course, it helps that the Red Sox have that potent lineup. Manny’s two-run double was the significant blow, and a single by some guy named Moss singled to put the Red Sox ahead.

Bobby Crosby leads off the bottom of the sixth. Inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

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Halfway home

The opener between the Red Sox and A’s is through five innings, and broadcaster Gary Thorne just issued a stat that won’t sound new to A’s fans:

“The A’s,” he said, “have left six on base, four in scoring position.”

Shades of 2007. And 2006. And 2005. And …

Anyway, it doesn’t bode well for later. The A’s had Daisuke Matsuzaka on the ropes for much of the early innings, but in the end the former Japanese star got through five innings and gave up just those two runs.

Top of the Red Sox order against Joe Blanton in the sixth.

More later.

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The Sweeneys

Interesting to note that Mike Sweeney wasn’t in the Opening Night lineup for the A’s. Wouldn’t read a whole lot into that. Manager Bob Geren will have a juggling act on his hands getting Sweeney, Jack Cust and Emil Brown regular playing time, and he obviously opted for defense by putting Brown in left and going with Cust as the DH.

As for center field, Ryan Sweeney got the nod. Sweeney was one of the acquisitions in the Nick Swisher trade back in January, so theA’s would like him to succeed. But the fact that he got the nod over Chris Denorfia doesn’t necessarily mean he’s won the job. Also in the mix is Carlos Gonzalez, who was one of three players the A’s declared ineligible for these two games. Gonzalez is battling a hamstring injury.

What would you like to see the outfield configuration look like? 

Still 2-0 A’s, by the way. Joe Blanton continues to be stingy with men on base. He got David Ortiz to ground out with runners at first and second to end the third. Meantime, Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to be finding his groove for Boston.

More later.

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Two in the first

Mildly — very mildly — good news for the A’s; Bobby Crosby made just enough contact on a 2-2 slider from Daisuke Matsuzaka to drive in a run and give the A’s a 2-0 lead through one.

Crosby, batting after new A’s outfielder Emil Brown walked to load the bases, looked terrible on two straight pitches before nubbing one to the left of the mound. Matsuzaka made a very nice play to record the out, but the at-bat qualified as a win for Crosby, who struck out 19 times in 84 at-bats while hitting .202 with runners in scoring position last season.

Joe Blanton has given up leadoff singles to start each of his two innings, par for the course for a guy who gave up 481 hits combined over the past two seasons. No runs for the Red Sox yet, however. 

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A’s score first

Mark Ellis hit a career-high 19 HR’s last season, and it would probably be silly to expect that kind of production again. Nevertheless, he just smoked a pitch from Daisuke Matsuzaka over the wall in left to produce the first run of 2008.

Matsuzaka’s homecoming has been a big story, but he doesn’t look entirely comfortable early. Travis Buck grounded out on Matsuzaka’s first pitch, but he grooved the pitch that Ellis whacked out of the park, and now he’s walked Daric Barton and hit Jack Cust in the heel. Looks terrible.

By the way, what does that say about Barton that he’s hitting third in the first game of his rookie season?

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Play Ball!

Crawled out of bed a few minutes ago after grabbing a 2 1/2-hour “nap,” and was in the midst of wiping away tears created by one yawn after a nother when I heard ESPN broadcaster say, “The Red Sox, the defending champions and favored to win another.”

Perhaps I’m dreaming.

Nope.  Thorne just mentioned that Boston’s J.D. Drew was scratched with an injury just before the lineup cards were brought out to the umpires. Definitely not dreaming.

Anyway, Joe Blanton just threw the first pitch _ a strike on the inside corner to Dustin Pedroia, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year. One significant absence for the A’s: No Eric Chavez at third base. First time that’s happened on Opening Night since 1998.

More updates later.