The A’s long-ball game has finally returned to the Oakland Coliseum.
A four-homer performance led Oakland to a 5-4 victory over the Rangers Saturday night.
Manager Bob Melvin was not surprised to see the power return to the Bay Area:
“We hit homers, it is what we do. It got a little bit close at the end, but we got enough distance early on to win the game.”
Starter Homer Bailey (W, 9-7, 5.33 ERA) shut Texas (53-52) down into the 7th inning before things started to unfold. Offensively, the A’s (59-47) ended a season-high three-game home homerless streak.
Mark Canha, filling Oakland’s DH role, got the firework show started in the second with a solo shot (17) to left.
Marcus Semien added his own solo shot (16) to left field to give the A’s a 2-0 lead one inning later.
Prior to the game, the A’s signed eight-year-old Wish Kid August Wold. During his press conference, Wold was asked who he though would homer. His answer was Matt Chapman, and the All-Star third baseman made him a prophet in the fifth.
Chapman’s first homer (23) in 10 games, and second of July, was a two-run shot to right-center giving the A’s a 4-0 lead.
“He did call my home run. The kid last year called KD’s and then he called mine today so I think he is my good luck charm. I am thankful for him calling that, it has been awhile.”
Ramon Laureano connected on the most interesting dinger (21) of the night in sixth.
Laureano smashed the ball to left field and stopped near the batter’s box, walked and held the bat in his hand while he watched that ball fly. He was about half-way to first base when he started his trot as Texas starter Adrian Sampson did not like how he handed his celebratory lap and both benches began to clear but it didn’t get too crazy.
Melvin said both teams were aware of a boiling feud between Sampson and Laureano, one nearly two months in the making:
“Sometimes games are a little more spirited than others. … I wasn’t expecting anything. If you know the backstory, you wouldn’t expect that but it looked kinda evident.”
In a meeting between the two clubs on June 8, Sampson was upset with Canha’s bat flip and when he walked off the mound after the inning he was accused of stepping on Laureano’s bat. So when Laureano hit his home run, he stared down the hurler and challenged him to do so again:
“I tell you, it was like a month-and-a-half ago, and it happened. Just move forward. Don’t make it any worse. Do you remember when you stepped on my bat? So you can step on it again.”
Both teams were warned. The Rangers, though, decided that an immediate message delivered outweighed a tightly contested divisional showdown.
Laureano was drilled his next time up by reliever Rafael Montero. Benches cleared, though no punches were thrown Montero along with Texas skipper Chris Woodward were ejected.
Laureano said he wasn’t expecting to be hit:
“To be honest, not really, but it is what it is. The pitching coach went in up there, two pitches before so that is a little suspicious but it is what it is. Lets keep playing the ball game. We got the win and Liam (Hendriks) threw a good inning.
The Rangers, who had trailed in each of the first two games of the before scoring comeback wins, challenged the same fate Saturday.
What little trouble Bailey faced in the early goings he snuffed out. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but a similar two-out rally in the seventh was his undoing.
Bailey struck out sandwiched a one-out single with a pair of strikeouts, giving him seven for the evening, but back-to-back extra-base hits made it 5-2 and forced the Oakland starter from the fray.
Melvin said that performances like this one is what the A’s had in mind when they made a trade for him:
“I thought he was really good. … I thought this is the type of guy, his stuff today, is what we are looking for. He pitched deep into the game and it was just one pitch that just didn’t quite get down to Santana. But other than that he was absolutely fantastic.”
Texas had a chance to score the knotting run, and perhaps more, but the sparingly used Chad Pinder threw a wet blanket on the already productive rally.
Attempting to score from second on a Nomar Mazara single, Elvis Andrus was gunned down at the plate by three strides.
“That is impressive — for a guy that hasn’t played out there a whole lot. We have seen his arm in the past and he works on it all the time. He just doesn’t get enough reps to where you would think he would be able to on that situation come up with a throw on that. … That was obviously a key part of the game.”
Working around a two-out single, Henriks (S, 9, 1.44 ERA) locked down his seventh save of the month.
The A’s and Rangers will wrap up their four-game series Sunday. Mike Fiers (9-3, 3.64 ERA) will face Pedro Payano (1-0, 1.50 ERA) as Oakland looks for a series split.