A’s Roll Past Rangers Again

July 28, 2016

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The A’s suddenly relentless home run muscle asserted itself once again Wednesday night, Coco Crisp and Khris Davis putting on a show in the A’s 6-4 win over American League West Division-leading Texas.

Crisp homered for the second night in a row, this one a two-run blast in the eighth inning that carried Oakland from behind to ahead 4-3 with one swing.

Davis hit his 24th and 25th homers, the second of which followed Crisp later in the eighth inning, also coming with a man on as the A’s bludgeoned Rangers reliever Matt Bush, who came into the game with a 2.01 ERA and who had only allowed one homer in 31 games.

Wednesday was the fourth time in 13 post-All-Star break games that the A’s have homered three times in a game. They’ve hit 19 overall during that time, tied with the Rangers for third in the A.L. in that span.

The power is one reason the 47-55 A’s have won nine of 13 since the break. They’ve crept to within 11 games of first-place Texas. That’s not particularly close, but it is closer than they’ve been since June 7.

The A’s got the pitching they’d hoped for from rookie starter Sean Manaea one more time, but it wasn’t enough to keep the left-hander from leaving the game down 3-2 in the seventh having allowed 11 hits while walking none.

For the third time in four starts Manaea got the A’s into the seventh inning. But with the A’s offense limited to just four hits while Rangers starter Yu Darvish turned in his six innings’ worth of work, Manaea got credit for a quality start and then was able to sit back and watch Crisp take over.

Darvish had lost both of his first two post-All-Star break games, and he was in trouble early when Crisp opened the game with a triple and scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. One out later, Davis clubbed his first bomb and Oakland was sitting on a 2-0 lead.

Oakland would not score again of the Japanese right-hander. Twice more, in the fourth and in the sixth innings, the A’s would get a runner to third base with two out, but both times Darvish was up to getting the inning-ending strikeout that kept Oakland away.

Once reliever Matt Bush got in the game, however, the A’s began to open up once more. Rookie Ryon Healy started the eighth with a single and Crisp followed with his second homer in as many nights deep to right field. The two-run shot put Oakland back in front 4-3.

After a Josh Reddick single later in the inning, Davis delivered his second bomb of the night, this one struggling to stay fair down the right field line, but hanging in there to serve as Davis’s 25th homer. With two months left in the season, he is just two homers short of last year’s career best 27, those hit while playing with the Brewers.

Manaea got through the first two innings without difficulty, but a two-out double from Ian Desmond and an Adrian Beltre single cut Oakland’s lead to 2-1 in the third, and in the fifth there was more two-out mayhem with Jurickson Profar reaching on a single before Desmond clubbed his 20th homer.

The Rangers would only get two more base runners off Manaea before Ryan Dull came in with a man on and two out in the seventh to close out that inning.

Although Manaea would like to keep the total hits down, he’s helped himself immeasurably by not walking anyone. In his last 26.2 innings over four games he has not walked anyone. That’s 108 batters who have faced him without getting a free pass.

Dillon Overton, the left-handed rookie who has helped pitch the A’s to two wins in three starts, will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday against the Indians. Overton, Oakland’s second-round pick in 2013, was scheduled to pitch Friday for Triple-A Nashville, so he’ll have an extra day off this time around. He’s 10-4 with a 3.21 ERA with the Sounds and 1-1 with an 8.40 ERA with the A’s. The bloated ERA is almost entirely due to a June 30 start against the Giants when he gave up eight earned runs in three innings.

Rich Hill remains probable for Sunday’s series finale, but if his blister problems have yet to be resolved, then Sonny Gray would get Sunday. Hill’s left middle finger is clearing up nicely from the blister, but Hill talked Wednesday about the need for more healing even as he expects to be able to return to the rotation. “The skin there still feels a little thin,” he said. “It’s a little frustrating that it’s taking as long as it is. But if I throw too soon and the blister breaks again, it’d be a long time before I’m out there.”

The A’s can turn to Gray on Sunday only because he’d be on regular rest because of the off-day Thursday.

Reliever Sean Doolittle played catch Tuesday, throwing a baseball up to 75 feet Tuesday and will attempt to stretch it out to 90 feet Friday as he attempts to pitch his way back after a left shoulder strain.

Reliever Andrew Triggs, who went out Tuesday on a rehab assignment with his bruised shin better, threw one inning and allowed a run in relief while pitching for Triple-A Nashville. He’ll take a day off, then throw two innings Thursday.

One of the players the A’s will catch up with this weekend in Cleveland is Dan Otero, who pitched for two A’s postseason teams in 2013 and 2014. Claimed off waivers from the Phillies and sold six weeks later to Cleveland, he’s 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA. He had a 10-2 record and 2.01 ERA for the A’s in 2013-14 but blew up to 2-4, 6.75 last year.

The A’s quick second-half start, eight wins in the first 12 games, parallels Jake Smolinski being made the everyday center fielder and Ryon Healy being called up from Triple-A to be the starting third baseman. Melvin credits “youthful enthusiasm. There is something to that,” the manager said. “Over the years since I’ve been here, it’s played in a lot. It also sends a message to others if things aren’t going well, we’re going to go in a different direction, which has always been the case here.”

Smolinski’s slash line since the break is .351/.442/.595 with three doubles and two homers while Healy is .256/.289/.465, also with three doubles and two homers.

Mike Henriques, the A’s strength and conditioning coach, returned before Tuesday’s game to Oakland to deal with a team personnel matter, the A’s said. Josh Cuffe, the club’s minor league strength and conditioning coordinator has joined the team in the meantime.

The A’s and Rangers saw batting practice washed out by a shower. But the rain was gone by the time of the first pitch.

For more on the A’s, see John Hickey’s Inside the A’s blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics . Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3 .