The Oakland Athletics salvaged one of three games against the Bay Area rival San Francisco Giants in both teams’ final tune-up before the real games roll in starting Monday.
A solo home run by newly-acquired, slugging outfielder Khris Davis in the third inning off Giants starter Matt Cain proved to be the difference for the hometown A’s, though that didn’t stop them from adding some insurance on the way to a 4-1 Saturday afternoon win.
A pair of unearned runs came on two errors on a fly ball past Giants center fielder Denard Span later in the third. A solo home run — this one off the bat of third base prospect Matt Chapman — in the eighth settled the A’s scoring before a ninth-inning solo jack from Giants shortstop Ehire Adrianza.
The win closes the book on a 12-17 Spring Training season for Oakland, one that gave fans, despite a poor record, hope for the season to be.
Prior to the game, A’s Manager Bob Melvin explained to his team that the game was more than a spring game:
“I told a couple of these guys, you’re making a first impression to a crowd that watches really closely. It’s nice for these guys to make an early impact with our fans.”
Explosive springs from center fielder and leadoff man Billy Burns — .352 batting average — right fielder Josh Reddick (.375 with a homer and 10 RBIs) and third baseman Danny Valencia (.288, 5 home runs, 13 RBI) should have A’s fans waiting with bated breath for Monday’s regular season opener against the Chicago White Sox.
While the Arizona League standout trio collected only one hit — a single by Valencia — on Saturday, a much awaited loud outburst from Davis (his second home run) relieved some stress as the team’s minor leaguers produced more power than its major leaguers. Chapman (team-high 6 Spring home runs) was joined by fellow top-tier prospect shortstop Frankln Barreto (3) among the team’s pre-season leaders.
Another Green and Gold star of the afternoon was lefty pitcher Eric Surkamp, who allowed two hits and one walk, while striking out seven, over seven innings in getting the win.
Following the game, lefty Surkamp spoke about the performance against his former team:
“I felt really good. I felt like I was locked in most of the game, good location on everything, it was a lot of fun. It was the first time I’ve ever pitched in this park, so that was exciting.”
Surkamp’s performance did not come in a starting effort, however, as he came on after an first-inning exit by starter Felix Doubront due to “forearm tightness.”
After the game, Melvin explained that the expected member of the Opening Day rotation was on his way to get an MRI, though he didn’t seem concerned about the injury and said Doubront has felt similar tightness in the past.
As for the Oakland offense, which was carried by the large lumber of Davis and Chapman, Melvin was pleased, though he may wish that there was a roster spot for the latter:
“He probably needs to play right now, but we know what we have now. We didn’t expect this kind of impression, this kind of impact, from a guy that was probably only going to get a few at-bats — he would have been one of he first cuts, but he wouldn’t let us cut him. He’s not just an offensive player, he’s a two-way player and he’s taken instruction well this camp.”
Davis, who was traded for by the club less than two months ago, said he was happy with his upward trend over the closing days of Spring Training. A significant power producer with the Milwaukee Brewers over the first three years of his career, there was some concern whether his home run threat would carry over to a far less hitter-friendly park in the Oakland Coliseum.
With a blast in his first at-bat in Oakland, Davis had this to say:
“I do what I do, and take all the elements out … I told you guys, this ballpark won’t hold me.”
After the game, outfielder Andrew Lambo was optioned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, while pitchers Henderson Alvarez and R.J. Alvarez, infielder Eric Sogard and outfielder Sam Fuld were each put on the disabled list, giving the A’s their final 25-man Opening Day roster. Melvin would not comment on his projected lineup for Monday’s game.