Newly called-up DH Frank Schwindel made his Oakland debut Wednesday night, hitting a two-run homer in his first at-bat to help lift Oakland to a 3-1 win over the Rangers as the 2,000th Athletics player to appear in a game.
Joey Gallo may have beat the A’s (48-34) Tuesday, but Chris Bassitt held the home run hitter to 0-for-3 in seven shutout innings. Gallo would get a solo homer (19) in the ninth — his third of the series — but the first run allowed since May 8 by reliever Lou Trivino affected only the box score, not the outcome.
LHP Kolby Allard threw a quick 1-2-3 first but A’s added three runs in the second, all they would need. Otherwise Allard (L, 2-4, 3.46 ERA) kept Oakland scoreless in his six innings where he allowed three runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked one in 91 pitches.
Matt Chapman led off the second with a walk before Chad Pinder singled to right to put two on with no outs. Jed Lowrie fouled out to the Rangers bullpen and Chapman tagged to third on the play. Sean Murphy (41 RBI) sacrificed the A’s first run before the rookie Schwindel stepped to the plate and hit his first big league home run 395 feet over the left-field foul pole. The Rangers hoped it was foul, but after a 46-second review, the call stood.
Schwindel celebrated his birthday Tuesday when he arrived to Oakland, and the day after his 29th birthday he got to celebrate his first big league home run. He went straight to the A’s iPad to rewatch it in the dugout. When your first hit in the big leagues is a home run, you pick up a 5.000 OPS. He hit 16 homers in 185 at bats in Vegas and hit one homer in one at bat in the majors.
Schwindel was happy to see smiles on his teammates faces when they waited for him to round the bases and high five him in the dugout. He said it will be a tough feeling to beat:
“I had a couple of those in 2019 and doing everything I can to try to get another chance up here and that felt unbelievable. Just having that opportunity, to just dig in the box then to do some damage on it, first swing I take is just, it’s unbelievable.”
Schwindel’s wife and six-month-old son witnessed his first big league home run from the Coliseum suites. He signed some gear for a fan in exchange for his first major league home run ball.
Schwindel was able to celebrate with the team in the clubhouse after the game. They traditionally have a smoke machine going and blast the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls pregame song then get in line and shoot free throws. Melvin sometimes participates when asked to join in with the team’s celebration. Schwindel missed out on that his first game in Oakland when they lost but was able to experience it on a night he was a hero. He said he missed his free throw shot and the team booed him, but he said he would trade a missed free throw for a game-winning homer any day:
“Just a roller coaster of emotions right there. I got a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and then had to stand there. I normally don’t watch them or anything like that but stood there and made sure it hit the seats in fair territory and then I ran around the bases to celebrate with the guys but then I saw them go to their little meeting and I got nervous for a second but once I saw them do the little home run sign it was a pretty good feeling.”
Melvin said he was shocked to see Schwindel’s ball go as far and high as it did:
“You don’t see many balls going to the upper deck. I mean, you see a few but a little flair for the dramatic during his first at-bat. Not only hitting a home run that ended up being a big hit in the game but going in the upper deck too, so he is off to a good start. Good that I pinch hit for him a little bit late but no I have said often you really feel like you are part of the team when your first at-bat is a home run, you win the game. Gets to shoot inside, all of it so he is probably in a good mood right now.”
Bassitt (W, 9-2, 3.04 ERA) was an absolute monster on the mound and it is becoming harder to put a finger on what he could have improved. He kept the Rangers (31-49) scoreless and they could only put up three hits; none of them belonged to Gallo or Bassitt’s former backup catcher Jonah Heim.
Bassitt he spoke about how it’s nice to have the team score early but made it clear it has no effect on how he pitches, spoken like a true All-Star:
“One, the energy he brought right away was pretty awesome. The little celebration, the Frank celebration in the dugout but anytime you can score early, not that it changes my game plan but it makes my life a heck of a lot easier… [Schwindel] has got a lot of power so obviously displayed that this first at bat but overall he’s a guy if you make a mistake he will make you pay for it.”
Mitch Moreland pinch-hit for Schwindel when Allard was relieved in the seventh, but the rookie was 1-for-2 on his debut night and proved he can contribute to a not so powerful or consistent DH spot.
Melvin spoke about his ace’s start and how big of a moment it was to strikeout Gallo to end the fourth:
“It was the key moment and he is the one guy on their team that has some numbers off Chris [Bassitt] he’s got a couple homers off of him so that gets your attention. You know you have to be at your best, kind of dig a little bit deeper to get whats going to be the biggest out of the game probably and did so. You have to put all those things in the back of your mind, the past history and just go on what you think is the best pitch compliment to get him out and he did.”
Bassitt explained how the battle went:
“I think that pitch I wasn’t trying to up and away. I was trying to basically throw the exact same pitch I threw for strike one and I knew if I would’ve done the exact same thing, I probably would’ve got a strike out pretty easily but the odds of my throwing that pitch aren’t that great honestly so knew he was looking out so its kind of a high risk pitch for me cause Im not great at throwing down in, to righties with a four seam, I am just not great at that so I was upset cause I know I didn’t execute it and I know he was upset because he missed it.”
Bassitt lost his first two starts of the 2021 season but Wednesday’s win marked nine straight wins, a new career high. He has thrown 109 strikeouts after the first 82 games of a season, the fourth-most in Oakland history trailing only trailing Vida Blue (twice in 1971 and 1975) and Todd Stottlemyre in 1995.
Melvin called Bassitt an All-Star and the team’s ace Wednesday night:
“Kinda doing his thing like we have seen him so many times this year… we have hit a little soft spot here. We’re not playing our best and offensively not swinging the bats like we can. To have a guy go out there and throw seven shutout innings, that is what you expect a guy like him to do… That’s All-Star worthy. That is what he has meant to the team.”
Yusmiero Petit started the seventh; the last time he started an inning instead of relieving a starter in the middle of an inning he picked up his first loss last week after replacing James Kaprielian in Texas last week. Petit took the mound with a 3-0 cushion, and a nice mid-air catch from Tony Kemp ended the inning leaving Isiah Kiner-Falefa on first. Kiner-Falefa had consecutive singles Wednesday, picking up two of the Rangers four hits.
Trivino (S, 13) allowed the solo homer to Gallo in the ninth, and two more singles followed to put runners on first and second with one out. Trivino struck out his former catcher Heim looking for the second out, ultimately escaping the inning and leaving two runners stranded.
LHP Sean Manaea (6-4, 2.91 ERA) and Dane Dunning (3-6, 4.63 ERA) will start the final game of the three-game series Thursday afternoon. It will be the seventh of ten meetings with Texas this season, all in a 19-game stretch after not facing each other in the first 73 games.
Elvis Andrus stole third in the eighth giving him seven stolen bases this season. … The Rangers left seven men on base and the A’s left five.