It took a group effort from Oakland to overcome a mighty debut from Rangers A-ball prospect Anderson Tejada, who knocked in three of four Texas runs Thursday afternoon as the A’s swept the Rangers with a 6-4 win.
Mike Fiers earned his first win of the season in his third start, giving up four runs in six innings. Mike Minor (L, 0-3, 6.89 ERA) allowed five runs in five innings. Fiers (W, 1-0, 5.63 ERA) was the better Mike on Thursday, and earned his first win of 2020 as the first A’s starting pitcher to see a seventh inning.
Olson had two homers Wednesday and started Thursday off with another dinger to put the A’s up 1-0 in the second inning. Mike Minor faced every A’s batter in the fourth inning except Marcus Semien, and the A’s advanced their lead to 5-0.
Melvin said the entire team has been contributing to their success:
“It’s the entire roster. It’s been the entire bullpen up to this point, too. Obviously your starters lead the way and we have contributions up and down our line-up.”
Ramon Laureano led off the four-run fourth with a base hit to right-center. Matt Chapman walked on four straight balls before Mark Canha singled up the middle to make it 2-0. Olson then hit a ball to deep left but Chapman couldn’t tag on the play and stayed on second. Chad Pinder walked to load the bases with one out.
Davis hit a hard line drive to Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, whose beautiful dive robbed him in the first, but not in the fourth. Davis’ RBI single made it 4-0 before a Piscotty sac fly brought in Pinder for a 5-0 lead.
Davis said he made a small adjustment with his hands, holding them further up the bat and it has helped with his accuracy at the plate:
“It’s been helping me be more accurate to the ball. I’m finding less swings and misses and a little better contact… It’s shitty but I’ve been here before. I have loved my job before, a couple of times and then had to battle back. This is nothing new to me.”
Davis explained that his teammates know what it is like to struggle and kept reminding him that he can hit, all around, not just home runs. Melvin said KD looked really good:
“His last three games have been really good swings since we have made a little bit of an adjustment. He is pulling some balls now, he isn’t late on them so ya, he swung the bat well. I know he feels good about his swing and so do I.”
Fiers became the first A’s starter to make it to the seventh inning and, even though he couldn’t finish the inning, he was still impressive. He said:
“I felt great. I went deep into the game, you know. Pitching with a lead and I hand it off to the bullpen in the seventh.”
Solak singled to lead off the fifth but was picked off at first by Fiers. This was a huge play and had the A’s not challenged it, the result of the game may have been different. Solak was called safe but the call was overturned. That gave the A’s one out and no runners on, rather than no outs and one runner on.
Fiers had an unsuccessful attempt at picking off Solak the first time, but the second time was not only a success but a huge out:
“He was leaning a little bit. The first time I picked over, it was a slow pick off, baiting him a bit. The next one, as soon as I came set, I picked it over quick, knowing he was leaning a little bit trying to get a good jump to steal. Olly defiantly helped me out by picking up the ball and tagging him.”
Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a full count during the review and swung at the first pitch after the call was overturned, he hit a line drive to center field. Laureano dove for the ball but it got past him and Falefa reached third for a triple. Had Laureano caught it on the bounce, it may have been a single or a double at most. The questionable decision ultimately cost Fiers one of his four earned runs.
Tejada made his MLB debut with an RBI single to right in the fifth, then stole second. The rookie made an impact throughout the game. With Tejada on first, Mathis walked and a Shin-Soo Choo groundout put two runners in scoring position. But Fiers was able to get out of the inning only giving up one run, coaxing another ground ball out from Andrus.
Melvin on Tejada’s debut:
“Scary. He hit a home run, hit for power. There’s a reason you bring a kid from A-ball up to the big leagues. Pretty exciting prospect to have there and thank goodness we held him down that last at bat.”
With two outs in the sixth inning, Fiers was up 0-1 in the count before three straight balls got him visibly frustrated on the mound. The next pitch was a home run to Todd Frazier, 429 feet into left field to make it 5-2. Tejada then launched his first MLB home run on his third at bat against Fiers, a two-run homer to make it 5-4 in the seventh.
Tejada’s final at-bat of the night was in the eighth inning against Yusmeiro Petit . Petit gave up three straight singles but forced the rookie to pop out with the bases loaded and didn’t allow a run that inning.
Melvin on Fiers:
“Pretty gutty. Pitch count under control. We had 95 with him today. End of the day, he comes out and gets a win, goes out there for the seventh, we haven’t seen that yet.”
Fiers said Davis came up with a big hit, and everyone is contributing in some way right now:
“Were getting better every day. Guys are starting to click and get the little kinks out. We’re still not 100% but we’re still winning, that’s great news for us. We need to stay on this road we are on.”
The A’s extended their win streak to six games on Thursday.
Davis came through in the clutch with the bases loaded and helped deepen the gap. He is finally making contact and putting the ball in play. After his single in the seventh inning, rookie catcher Sean Murphy lined a single into center to bring in Barreto, who had pinch ran for Davis. Murphy’s hit made it 6-4.
Bob Melvin on Murphy’s RBI single:
“That’s a really big hit because, obviously we win by two but the difference between two and one, psychology wise going into the last game is huge. Especially when you have top of the order coming up … One swing of the bat can tie it so big second run for us.”
Joely Rodriguez started the seventh inning and after giving up two base hits and a run, he was relieved by Nick Goody. Goody came in with runners on first and second with two outs trailing 6-4. Chapman walked. Canha was 1-for-3 and had his eighth RBI on a single in the fourth but couldn’t do it again with the bases loaded in the seventh. He popped out to right-center to end the inning.
McFarland relieved Fiers and gave up a double to Choo, but got out of the seventh inning without allowing another run and needed only eight pitches to do it. Liam Hendriks got the save.
What may be the biggest rivalry in baseball right now will finally take place Friday night when the A’s meet the Houston Astros in a three-game series. Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93 ERA) will battle Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) as the two best teams in the AL West tangle in Oakland.