The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics begin the United States leg of their schedules this evening when the American League West rivals start a two-game set at the Oakland Coliseum.
These two teams kicked off the Major League Baseball season with two games at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
"I was really proud how they handled themselves over in Japan with everything going on both on and off the field," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I felt they represented themselves well. Now it's just to get them back on track."
Seattle won the opener of that series when Dustin Ackley knocked in the go- ahead run in the top of the 11th inning, helping the Mariners edge the A's, 3-1.
Despite Ackley's winning hit and home run earlier in the contest it was Ichiro Suzuki who stole the show, as the superstar returned to his native land with a 4-for-5 performance at the plate. Suzuki also had an RBI single in the 11th.
Brandon McCarthy started for the A's in that one and did not factor in the decision, but pitched well, surrendering just one run and six hits in seven innings. He will again be on the hill tonight trying to improve upon a 2-5 lifetime mark against Seattle.
Oakland gained a measure of revenge in the capper, as Cuban Yoenis Cespedes belted his first career homer to put the A's on top and Bartolo Colon threw eight strong innings in a 4-1 victory. Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes also homered in the win.
"I know the whole game they were throwing sliders," said Cespedes, who signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's after defecting from Cuba. "I tried to make adjustments, and that's the only way I hit that ball."
Colon (1-0) limited Seattle to three hits, including Justin Smoak's solo homer, and struck out six while walking only one in his Oakland debut.
Jason Vargas started for the Mariners and did not factor into the decision, as he was lifted after 6 1/3 innings. The lefty was charged with a run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge could have used former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez this evening, but opted for Vargas to keep his ace in line for the team's home opener next week. Hernandez will pitch on Saturday.
"It'll be cool," Vargas said. "Last year, I got to experience one at home. This year, I'll be able to experience one on the road. I'm looking forward to it. Opening Days are always fun for everybody, so it'll be exciting."
Vargas, though, is 0-3 with a 4.10 ERA in five games in Oakland. Overall against the A's, though, he is 3-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 10 games (eight starts).
Seattle was 10-9 against the A's last season.