Alex Wood

What we learned as Wood struggles in A's Opening Day loss to Guardians

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OAKLAND -- What could be the final Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum was one to forget.

The Athletics kicked off their 2024 MLB season with a matchup against beloved former catcher and first-year Cleveland Guardians manager Stephen Vogt on Thursday in front of an anxious and frustrated crowd that very clearly can see the writing on the wall.

Alex Wood (L, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, BB, 3 K) received the celebratory nod against Guardians ace Shane Bieber (W, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 11 K).

Here are three observations from Oakland's 8-0 loss to Cleveland.

Probably not the guy

Wood received the Opening Day nod for the A's over former staff ace and 2022 MLB All-Star Paul Blackburn and 2023 staff ace JP Sears. Why? That's a good question.

It didn't go well.

After a nine-pitch first inning, Wood struggled in the second and fourth innings, surrendering six earned runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings pitched.

Following a frustrating 2023 season with the San Francisco Giants where he was openly dissatisfied with his inconsistent role both in the rotation and the bullpen, Wood signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with Oakland this offseason where he should be able to reprise a traditional starting role.

At the back end of the rotation.

Have a Bleday

If the A's are to outperform expectations this season, it will be on the backs of their young talent.

Zack Gelof, Lawrence Butler, Esteury Ruiz and Shea Langeliers made names for themselves last season and certainly have star potential, but perhaps one X-factor who is flying somewhat under the radar is center fielder JJ Bleday.

Bleday debuted in 2022 and struggled mightily, batting .167/.277/.309 with five home runs, 16 RBI and 67 strikeouts in just 204 at-bats. His sophomore season wasn't much better. Bleday hit .195/.310/.355 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI in 256 at-bats.

The 26-year-old began his 2024 season on a strong note, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a single and a double while running down a fly ball to make an impressive catch in center in the first.

It's going to be a long season

For what could be the final Opening Day at the Coliseum, the energy inside the stadium was ... weird. And for good reason. The energy before the game at the "Block Party" in the parking lot outside the stadium, however, was lively and passionate as fans staged a tailgate protest.

The paid attendance of 13,522 fans, which probably was closer to 8,000 fans actually in attendance, did their best to generate as much energy as they could, but it was clear these fans were not exactly jumping with joy to root for a team that soon could be uprooted from the city. In fact, the loudest it got was when fans organized a familiar three-word chant in the top of the fifth inning.

The Coliseum itself also lacked its usual grit and swagger on Thursday night. Between the outdated early 2010s pop music blasting over the speakers to the absence of the local food trucks in Championship Plaza to broken/under-repair video boards above the scoreboards, the atmosphere felt like the very end of a frustrating season rather than Game 1 of 162.

Regardless of how the team performs on the field, the uncomfortable feeling at the ballpark isn't going anywhere any time soon.

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