Ten seconds. Just longer than it takes to get a 100-point bull ride or an Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters.
That’s how long it took Athletics rookie Ramón Laureano to run to third from home in the second inning Monday before third base coach Matt Williams could tell him that his 104-mph screaming liner had cleared the wall in right for career homer No. 1.
He backed off on the speed as he rounded third, finally touching home a little more than 19 seconds after contact to give the A’s (75-50) a 3-0 advantage over the Rangers (56-71).
In a matter of four innings, the 24-year-old Dominican perfected a friendlier pace, though he still made the 360-foot trot in a brisk 24 seconds following his second homer of the night. Laureano’s outburst supported another strong showing by Mike Fiers for a 9-0 Oakland victory and, coupled with an Astros loss in Seattle, a tie atop the AL West standings.
Laureano’s first homer was the first of four for the A’s which caught the attention of manager Bob Melvin who joked that his club must have been getting the aid of a warm summer night in Oakland — it was 62 degrees at first pitch:
“We made the park look small for a night that it usually plays really big, and it started with him.”
Once touted as an elite prospect with five-tool potential, Laureano had showcased his speed, defense and arm through the first 11 games of his major league career. But he had collected just seven hits, none for extra bases. He said:
“I’ve been feeling good every at-bat, I was just missing pitches and taking pitches I should hit.”
“Everybody is doing their job, so I have zero pressure.”
Part of a platoon with lefty Nick Martini, Laureano was given his second start against a right-handed hurler, his first since Aug. 4, alongside Martini in left with Mark Canha struggling. Laureano made a statement for more right-on-right playing time, and did it early facing fellow Dominican — the winningest Dominican in MLB history — and former Athletic Bartolo Colon.
His first homer was a laser, sending an 89-mph fastball to right at 104 mph. Familiar with the 15-foot walls in Oakland Coliseum’s power alleys, Laureano came flying out of the box looking to turn his first big league extra-base hit into a triple.
Not until he arrived at third that Laureano was informed by Williams that his liner had found the perch atop the American League out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run homer (1).
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 21, 2018
The youngster was so focused on getting the most he could he didn’t notice that he had almost run down Marcus Semien, who had been at second:
“I saw the umpire at second base and he didn’t say anything. Then I looked at third base and (Williams) said ‘home run.'”
He left far less doubt in the sixth, clobbering a 79-mph 0-1 changeup into the seats near the stairwell in straight-away left for a 416-foot three-run homer (2). Asked about his second trot and being able to soak up the moment, Laureano laughed saying that, once again, he was just trying to move the runners:
“I was thinking of something and I did something different. I was like, ‘oh, OK, I’ll take it.'”
But Laureano was hardly the only Athletic putting barrel to ball against Colon (L, 7-11, 5.45 ERA) and the Rangers. Khris Davis, who hit two long balls Sunday against the Astros, crushed one off the window of the luxury box windows in left-center for a solo bomb (37) off the Texas starter. And Stephen Piscotty, who had picked up four doubles through the first six games of this current nine-game homestand, smoked his own solo shot (16) to the seats in deep left-center.
Judging by the top-half of the first two innings, it would have appeared the A’s would need all the offense it could get.
Fiers (W, 9-6, 3.21 ERA) held the Rangers scoreless through two, and to just one hit, but in walking one — Shin-Soo Choo, the game’s first batter — and hitting another it took the Oakland right-hander 46 pitches to escape jams in each inning.
But that was it. Fiers retired the last 18 men he faced to finish seven strong before handing an 8-0 lead to his overworked bullpen. He said:
“When the fastballs are being sprayed around, and stuff isn’t breaking how it’s supposed to be, you’ve gotta make an adjustment and you’ve got to do it quick.”
Melvin said that while he didn’t want to call for action in the bullpen, he was forced to consider it:
“I didn’t want to (get someone up in the bullpen), I needed some innings tonight. Throwing as many pitches as he did, he didn’t look like he had command of anything. … (Catcher Jonathan Lucroy) pointed out that he wasn’t coming straight towards him, he was a little off-line, and all of a sudden it was a quick fix. … After that he was fantastic.”
Brett Anderson (2-3, 3.90 ERA), who has allowed two earned runs 19-2/3 innings (0.92 ERA) this month, takes the ball in search of Oakland’s fourth-straight series victory and 16th since June 16. He will face rookie Ariel Jurado (2-2, 6.41 ERA) who has allowed six runs in each of his last two outings.
The A’s announced Monday that 2019 A’s Access Members will receive discounts of 50 percent on concessions and 25 percent on merchandise, along with $10 pre-paid parking throughout the month of September. A’s COO Chris Giles said in a press release:
“This September will be an exciting month of baseball for us and we want to extend our A’s Access benefits now to our 2019 Access Members. Even if you’re not a member yet, you can join at any point in September to unlock the benefits.”
Members must use the MLB Ballpark app in order to receive discounts. … With his win and seven scoreless innings, Mike Fiers is now 2-0 since being acquired by the A’s. In his three starts with Oakland he has allowed three runs in 18-1/3 innings (1.47 ERA). … Ramón Laureano became the 10th player in Athletics — not just Oakland — history to hit his first two major league home runs in the same game. The last to accomplish the feat was Matt Chapman (July 15, 2017).