A’s unload Texas-sized offense, claim series over Rangers

Behind an early offensive awakening and a gem from starter Jesse Hahn, the Oakland Athletics made it two in a row against the Texas Rangers to seal their first home series victory of the season.

The A’s (7-8) got to Texas starter Martin Perez early, slapping the lefty with four early runs en route to an 9-1 rout Wednesday afternoon.

Since losing the first three games of the homestand, Oakland has rebounded rocking the Rangers (5-10) to the tune of an 12-3 over the past two contests.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

The defense, which had commit at least one error in each of its last 11 games, backed the A’s starter with flawless glovework, including a pair of standout plays from shortstop Adam Rosales.

Despite the nine-burger his offense put up behind him, Hahn (W, 1-1, 3.00 ERA) said the defense was the difference:

“I think defense won the game today. These guys made unbelievable plays behind me, alls I had to do was keep the ball in play.”

Perez (L, 1-2, 3.60 ERA) shut the A’s out for 5-1/3 innings, dancing around nine base runners just 10 days ago. On this day he would have no such luck, and the table was turned in the very first frame, before the defense took over.

Rajai Davis set that turned table immediately sending a bloop into shallow right to lead off the bottom of the first. As it landed mere feet from the fair line the speedy center fielder motored his way to second. After a sacrifice bunt from Rosales, strikeout of Trevor Plouffe and intentional walk of Khris Davis the Oakland offense unleashed an unrelenting two-out rally.

An RBI single form Ryon Healy was followed up by a double from Josh Phegley — scoring two — and another from Yonder Alonso — scoring one more.

With reliever Mike Hauschild warming in the bullpen, the Texas lefty was mercifully able to coax a pop up from Chad Pinder to end the threat, but the damage had already been done. In serving up four hits and four runs, Perez needed 39 throws to end the first. He was pulled after just 3-2/3 innings, and was assessed seven hits and four runs.

Manager Bob Melvin, who thought this was his team’s most complete performance of the season, said the early offense was key for his starter’s rhythm and confidence:

“I’ve said often, ‘starting pitchers maybe struggle a little bit early in the game,’ but when you have a four-run lead you can get out there and you know you can throw the ball over the plate — make them hit it.”

In search of the ever-important shut-down inning, Hahn got help.

Ranger first baseman Mike Napoli rifled a grounder up the middle. Rosales, using every bit of his above-average range and every inch of his shortstop’s glove, made a scoop in the grass on the right-field side of the second base bag before firing to first to get the slow-moving slugger.

Hahn said, like the skipper referenced, the play bailed him out in a challenge situation:

“That was huge. I was behind in the count there too, and I didn’t want to walk that guy, so I thought middle with my fastball and he just made an unbelievable play.”

Hahn didn’t allow his first base runner until a lead-off walk in the third, giving Joey Gallo, who homered (3) in his next at-bat two innings later, the free pass. The solo homer would account for the entirety of the Texas offense, as they finished with just three hits — also getting a Napoli single in the fourth and a Delino DeShields single in the ninth off Liam Hendriks.

In his second start of the season, Hahn worked effectively and efficiently, needing 92 pitches to toss 6 scoreless, though he walked four. He also struck out four. The bullpen contributed another three scoreless, making it six zeroes since a tough Saturday.

They didn’t need it but the “Swingin’ A’s” swung their way to a pair of two-run add-on innings in the fifth and sixth, and another in the seventh.

Leading the way in the attack was Khris Davis, who chipped in a two-run home runs (7) in the fifth, Pinder, who scorched a solo homer (1) in the sixth, and Alonso, who launched his own solo jack (2) in the seventh.

Khris Davis’ bomb, another of the opposite variety, impressed his own dugout. Alonso could manage just a “whew” when describing it. Melvin offered a bit more:

“You think you are (done being surprised by his power), then he hits a ball like that today where only the powerful hitters hit them. It shouldn’t surprise me at this point, I just kind of marvel at it.”

Pinder, who tallied the second homer of his career, he was surprised when the liner — one of two such hits — cleared the wall. Not only was the dugout a shocked at the carry created by the rookie, so was the second baseman himself. Pinder told SFBay:

“I thought it was in the gap. … Off the bat I was like, ‘eh, I think that’s just a double.'”

Hauschild was tabbed with all five runs, including all three homers. The righty has been taken deep five times through the first 8 innings of his season and major league career.

On deck

The A’s face the Seattle Mariners (-) for the first time this season. Oakland went 6-13 against the M’s — 1-8 at home — a season ago. In search of a rebound the home team will give the ball to Cesar Valdez (1-0, 2.70 ERA in two starts with Triple-A Nashville), making his first big league appearance since 2010. The journeyman will be opposed by James Paxton (3-0, 0.00 ERA), who boasts a 2.75 ERA in three career starts against the green and gold.

Notes

Khris Davis hit his seventh home run of the season in the fifth. With it, he became the became the fourth Athletic in Oakland history to hit seven homers in the team’s first 14 games — he joined Reggie Jackson (1974), Jason Giambi (2000) and Jermaine Dye (2004). … Playing error-less ball, the A’s snapped an 11-game streak of games with at least one error. The streak was the longest by the team since a run of 15 straight games in May 2015. … With Jesse Hahn being credited with the win A’s starters have been rewarded with each of the teams seven wins. The rotation is responsible for just four of the teams’ eight losses. … Texas Rangers Manager Jeff Banister was ejected in the third inning after arguing with home plate umpire Bill Welke over a fair-foul call.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.