“Struggles and Silver Linings: Alex Wood’s Opening Day Journey with the A’s”

Alex Wood eagerly seized his inaugural Opening Day start, viewing it as a prime opportunity to establish a precedent for the rebuilding A’s team, aspiring to make significant strides in the 2024 season. At 33, the veteran southpaw saw it as a chance to lead the youthful pitching staff through his own performance.

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Alex Wood

The game began on a high note as Alex Wood efficiently dispatched the first three batters in the Guardians’ lineup—Steven Kwan, José Ramírez, and Ramón Laureano—on just nine pitches. This swift inning exemplified why the A’s pursued Wood in the offseason: his rapid pace, consistent strikes, and ability to secure quick outs.

However, this momentum was short-lived. From the second inning onwards, Alex Wood found himself navigating through traffic on the bases. The turning point came in the fourth inning when Cleveland capitalized on a hit-by-pitch and three consecutive hits to score five runs, culminating in a decisive two-run double by Brayan Rocchio.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay acknowledged the challenges Wood faced, particularly falling behind in counts early, which forced him to return to the zone with his fastball, making it difficult to control the game. Despite this, Wood managed to contain Cleveland’s top hitters, limiting them to a 1-for-8 performance against him. It was the bottom half of the lineup that proved problematic, although much of the contact against Wood was relatively weak.

Wood recognized the frustrating nature of the game but maintained a positive outlook on his overall performance, noting that his stuff felt sharp despite the unfavorable outcome.

Facing the formidable Shane Bieber on the mound further compounded the A’s difficulties. Bieber dominated through six innings, amassing 11 strikeouts on just 83 pitches. Following Bieber’s departure, the A’s offense faltered, failing to register a hit in the final three innings and setting a franchise record for strikeouts on Opening Day.

Despite preseason optimism about the team’s improvement, Thursday’s game echoed the struggles of the previous season, characterized by short outings from starters, lackluster offense, and a reliance on the bullpen to keep the game from slipping further out of reach.

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