The A’s powered their way to a second-straight win over the Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon with five home runs and plenty of defense.
The A’s stomped all over the Twins 14-1, and managed to not commit any errors, while Minnesota bungled three.
Josh Reddick hit his third career grand slam in the fifth to lift the score to 11-0, out of realistic reach of the Twins.
But even the seven runs before Reddick’s slam were daunting enough, and came on homers by Josh Phegley (6), Billy Butler (9), and Jake Smolinski (2 and 3), and RBI doubles from Phegley and Ben Zobrist.
Oakland’s offense was reminiscent of a Sunday or two during the 2014 season, the difference being the team’s situation as the deadline crawls closer.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said:
“We’ve seen it on the other side. So it was nice to see it on our side.”
No matter, though, Oakland batters were raking off former A’s pitcher Tommy Milone (L, 5-2, 3.38 ERA) while Jesse Chavez (W, 5-9, 3.21 ERA) recorded nine strikeouts and allowed only three hits over six shutout innings.
Smolinski hit his second shot in the eighth inning, the A’s newest addition coming through again. The 26-year-old was brought in to hit against left-handed starters, and has done well since being claimed off waivers from Texas.
The first jack came in the third inning, a full count with two outs. A breaking pitch left just inches out of the bottom part of the zone was swatted to left field.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Smolinski’s second shot came again with two out, though two runners were aboard. He saw a first pitch fastball right down the pipe. A pitch that was risky to throw in general, but with the 11-0 score, the game turned to batting practice.
“We knew that a lot of these guys do have the power to be productive, Billy (Butler) is starting to swing it a lot better recently, hitting the ball to the big part of the park. … We’ve felt like we have the guys to be consistent against lefties. We’ve seen it in spurts, just not as consistent as we’d like to see.”
Milone was traded away during the 2014 season from Oakland, who had acquired starters Jason Hammel, Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester in July, pushing Milone down to the minors with a lack of roster space.
He’d requested a trade shortly after the demotion, of which he wasn’t deserving, and the A’s obliged, bringing outfielder Sam Fuld back in return.
Sunday afternoon’s barrage of homers was almost like a “thank you” to the A’s organization, though Milone’s awful day was hardly intentional.
Milone allowed five earned runs, seven total with two coming on a two-out error shortly after Phegley hit his blast.
The score sheet has the A’s down for zero errors on the day, which have been a problem throughout the season. Oakland may have lost as many as 10 games this season due to critical errors, though no more than that, and have played better defense of late.
The A’s still committed three errors in this home series, and defense has been their Achilles heel all season after a series of moves that signaled possible defensive improvement during the offseason.
With Burns’ missed catch, that number could have been four errors.
The game was effectively over, though, and the A’s took their first series after the All-Star break, improving their record to 43-51. Oakland is eight games below .500, and remains trapped in the American League cellar, even with all-around improvement.
“Coming back from games that we feel like we could win, or had in hand and didn’t, the question is whether we’d be able to respond to that. These guys have been able to do that. It’s been getting on a role and being consistent.”
Oakland is 9-6 now in July, and 10-10 over their last 20, showing marginal progress.
The A’s have a day off Monday, then host a three-game set versus Toronto starting Tuesday.