Without his normal right-handed leadoff hitter — the recently-traded Rajai Davis — manager Bob “BoMel” Melvin shook out the Oakland lineup Saturday against Texas lefty Cole “Hollywood” Hamels.
Topping the order for seventh time this season, Marcus “Mahkus” Semien collected two hits and drew a walk, scoring two runs. In the two-hole for the 18th time, Chad “Chi” Pinder swatted a pair of solo home runs and scored a third run after drawing a walk in the fifth.
Riding the production of their revamped top two, the Athletics (57-72) pulled away from the Rangers (64-65) for an 8-3 hammering, handing Hollywood his second loss of the season.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.
Chi, like A’s homer run leader Khris “Khrush” Davis, was reluctant to discuss his personal success, addressing instead the team victory:
“What matters the most is that we won. That’s a good feeling, being able to leave the yard with another win. And it’s nice when you get to contribute to those wins.”
The Oakland right fielder opened his afternoon in fashion, launching a 421-foot bomb (11) out to center in the bottom of the first, answering the Rangers’ two-run top half.
The bomb momentarily rattled Hollywood (L, 9-2, 3.78 ERA), who walked the next two batters before coaxing an inning-ending double to escape the jam. He again avoided additional harm in the second, stranding Mark Canha who, after a double and wild pitch, had made his way to third before a single out had been recorded.
Chi erased the early deficit with his second solo homer (12), following a failed stolen base attempt by Mahkus.
BoMel said Chi’s production against a tough starter was impressive:
“The guy (was) 9-1, and he’s a tough customer, so to be able to put two good swings on him like that and get us back into the game … was key.”
Pitching on seven days of rest for the first time this season, Sean “Da Kid” Manaea faced threats in all but one of his 5 innings of work. After allowing two runs on three hits in the first, though, he worked out of every jam he found himself in, stranding seven Texas base runners.
No challenged faced was greater than the one Da Kid (W, 9-8, 4.5 ERA) fell into in the the fifth. But a seven-pitch battle with Mike “Porterhouse” Napoli ended on a disappearing changeup, and a swinging whiff, his third strikeout of the game.
Da Kid was granted the additional rest after a four-start scuffle through August ballooned his ERA from 3.82 to 4.58. But he has now kept his team within striking distance in consecutive starts, coming off a 6-inning, three-run outing against the Orioles in Baltimore. BoMel said that struggling pitchers can often stumble in the first in search of comfort. Added the skipper:
“All in all, between those to starts, hopefully he’s on his way to pitching like he’s used to pitching.”
Said the starter:
“The past two starts, I feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction. Today, overall, was an OK game, but to me it’s still not to where I want to be. … I’ve got to learn to take away the positive things and today was a positive.”
That “OK game” for Da Kid was good enough to top the Rangers ace, as he allowed seven hits and one walk but held Texas to the two first-inning runs. The Oakland offense hung nine hits and six runs over 4-1/3 frames on Hollywood’s record.
After knotting things up with power, the A’s went ahead on the speed of Matt “Chappy” Chapman, who scored from first on a Matt “DJ SS” Joyce grounder that banged off third baseman Adrian “El Koja” Beltre and trickled into left.
Jed Lowrie added a pair of doubles and three RBIs, with Khrush and Ryon “Heals” Healy adding a single RBI apiece. On an RBI ground-out, El Koja added onto his two-run first-inning double to drive in all of Texas’ offense.
Da Kid said it was nice to see a complete effort:
“It just seems like everybody is pulling their own weight and putting things together, we’re playing really good baseball right now. Just trying to finish out the season strong.”
The A’s look to claim a sweep of this abbreviated three-game home stand, sending Jharel Cotton (6-10, 5.63 ERA) to the Coliseum mound, where he has struggled this season going 2-6 with a 7.71 ERA — 4-4, 3.40 ERA on the road. Texas will counter with former-Athletic A.J. Griffin (6-4, 5.10 ERA).
Sean Manaea has now allowed five earned runs in 11 innings (4.09 ERA) over his last two starts after giving up 13 over 6-2/3 (17.55 ERA) in his previous three. … With two Saturday, Jed Lowrie is once again tied for the major league lead in doubles (40), matching Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez. … Reliever Santiago “Willi” Casilla was hit with a batted ball in the seventh inning. Manager Bob Melvin said that there are no health concerns, though, as Casilla was able to get his glove up in time to deflect the ball.
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.