The A’s inducted their 2019 Hall of Fame class before the game Saturday, and came out looking like a squad of Hall of Famers when the game started. The eventful afternoon ended in a 12-3 series-clinching drubbing of the Rangers.
Oakland (94-61) batted around in the opening frame, scoring seven runs behind a pair of singles from Matt Chapman. The outburst was enough for Sean Manaea, who, for the first time since his return from injury, had to be lifted in the middle of an inning.
The win, coupled with a Rays win and Cleveland loss, keeps the A’s in position to host the AL’s Wild Card Game, two games ahead of Tampa Bay.
Marcus Semien began the bottom of the first, after Manaea (W, 3-0, 1.14 ERA) worked around a walk and a double to post a zero in the top half, with a single, his first of three hits.
Semien concluded his impressive evening with three hits, including a homer (32) and three walks. Semien now sits among the American League’s top five in hits (181), runs (119) and WAR (7.4). Manager Bob believes Semien is a strong MVP candidate:
“Everything he has done, from getting on base, to hitting homers, knocking in runs, to playing defense, to having leadership qualities. He is on pace for 162 games, I don’t know that anybody has been more important to a team than Marcus has. Six times on base, that is a nice little feather in your hat too.”
Brock Burke got things started for the Rangers (74-81), but did little more than that, departing two outs into the game already down 5-0. Reliever No. 1, Luke Farrell, finally put the first to bed when he struck out Matt Olson with runners at the corners.
Third baseman Nick Solak didn’t help Burke’s cause though, when he scooped a Mark Canha routine grounder, stepped on third and quickly fired a wild missile into the empty Texas bullpen.
When the dust settled on the first, each A’s starter had recorded either a hit, RBI or run scored with the biggest swing coming in the form of a two-run single from Chapman, his second hit.
Even holding a 7-0 lead after one inning, with Manaea, who had allowed one run in his first 18 innings pitched of the season, the A’s were not ready to take their foot off the pedal. That’s never an option, Semien said:
“In the major leagues, one inning of scoring, you never want to relax. We have seen these guys a lot lately, we just faced them so the familiarity with all the bullpen guys. Sometimes bullpen games are tough because you see someone different every time and you don’t know what is coming but we faced a lot of those guys last week.”
Jonathan Hernandez came in for the second and allowed the A’s to add two more runs, the second on a Semien bases-loaded walk.
The Rangers used four pitchers before the end of the second inning, and a total of eight on the night. Of them, only Joe Palumbo, who worked the sixth, was the only hurler who did not surrender a hit.
The A’s didn’t score again until Shawn Kelley pitched the fifth and gave up homers to Semien (32) leading off and Canha (26), each a solo blast.
Manaea gave up a pair of his own solo homers in the sixth to Elvis Andrus (11) and Danny Santana (26). Each of the three runs he has allowed in his four starts have come in the form of solo homers.
The Oakland starter was lifted with two outs in the sixth, and while he was hit harder than he had been in his first three starts , he was happy to embrace the support he received:
“It was great. Offense was unbelievable tonight and so was the defense. When we go out there in the first inning and whip up seven runs it makes the game a little easier. The offense has been incredible.”
Ramon Laureano was removed after making a sliding catch near the visitor’s bullpen in the fourth. Chapman was also removed early, coming out after the sixth, and Jesus Luzardo, making his Oakland debut, pitched just one inning after working three in each of his first two starts.
Melvin said after the game that there were no injuries to report, explaining that in a lopsided game this late in the seasons those few innings of rest can be beneficial:
“That type of game, I don’t want to waste him for three innings. It had been four of five days off for him, pitch him one inning and we might be able to bring him back sooner the next time. … Trying to get [Laureano] off his feet. Wont be out there tomorrow then a half day, might be able to get him in there for 3 in a row.”
The A’s will play their final regular season home game Sunday afternoon. Tanner Roark (4-1, 3.83 ERA) will battle Lance Lynn (14-11, 3.77 ERA) as the A’s look to sweep the Rangers.
With three hits and three walks, Marcus Semien became the = first A’s player to reach six times in a game since Matt Olson recorded four hits and two walks on April 18, 2018. … Matt Chapman snapped 0-for-16 hitless slump with a single in the first inning. … A’s have hit 35 home runs this season against the Rangers, the most against any opponent.