Things looked pretty bleak for the Oakland A's as they headed to Tampa Bay on Friday night. Coming off of a three-game beatdown by the Boston Red Sox, the A's appeared to be in a free fall. Then the middle of their order rediscovered their power bats, and the A's suddenly have a pulse in the American League West.
The fun began on Friday, when Khris Davis and Danny Valencia hit homeruns in the first inning off of Jake Odorizzi to give the A's a much needed 4-0 lead. Valencia would homer again in the sixth inning and the A's broke a five-game losing streak with a 6-3 win. Remarkably, the two homeruns were Valencia's first of the season.
After a 6-0 loss on Saturday, the A's were facing another disheartening defeat on Sunday when they were down to their last out in Tampa. Valencia -- who had homered twice earlier in the game -- crushed a game-winning, two-run homer to give him his first three-homer game of his career and the A's a come-from-behind 7-6 win.
The A's won their second game in a row on Monday, thanks to the pitching performance of rookie Sean Manaea and a homerun from shortstop Marcus Semien, who is on a power streak of his own. Semien has two homers in his last four games and 10 on the season.
On Tuesday, Valencia and Davis brought out the boomsticks early, going back-to-back off of Rangers' starter Cole Hamels in the second inning, staking the A's a 2-0 lead. The Rangers would have a little back-to-back action of their own in a three-run fourth that put the A's behind, 3-2. Davis would draw the A's even with a solo homer in the sixth and Valencia would single home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. When A's closer Ryan Madson retired the first two batters in the top of the ninth, it looked like the A's were going to win another one-run game. That's when things went off the rails for Madson for the first time this season. He allowed a single to Rougned Odor and then coughed up a two-run homer to Ian Desmond to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead. The Rangers could have extended their lead even further, but the A's cut down Nomar Mazara trying to score from second on a single.
The A's quickly mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth when Stephen Vogt reached on an infield single and Coco Crisp doubled. Billy Burns and Valencia were unable to bring home a run, however, setting the stage for Davis to come to the plate with the bases-loaded and two outs. Davis and Rangers' closer Shawn Tolleson battled to a 2-2 count, and then Davis crushed his third homer of the game -- this time a walk-off grandslam.
Since Friday, Davis and Valencia have combined to hit 10 homeruns and drive-in 14 runs. According to David Feldman (@dfeldy), Davis hit the first two-out grandslam when the A's were trailing since Mark McGwire hit one off of Lee Smith in 1995. Davis also joined Joey Votto as the only players to cap off a three-homer game with a grandslam, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.
The A's will need Davis and Valencia to continue to provide power from the right-side, as Mark Canha will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury that will require surgery. Canha was one of the A's top right-handed power sources last season.
Minor League Notes
- Ryon Healy made his presence known in Triple-A quickly, collecting three hits in his debut for the Nashville Sounds. One of those three hits was a triple. Matt Olson had the game-winning hit and went 6-for-12 in the four-game set with Fresno. Dillon Overton got the win in the 2-1 victory, going 6.2 innings. He allowed a run on five hits and one walk. He struck-out eight. The Sounds swept the Grizzlies in the four-game set.
- Matt Chapman had four hits in eight at-bats, including a two-out, game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth, but the Midland RockHounds fell to the Frisco RoughRiders, 11-8, in 15 innings. Wade Kirkland hit a game-tying homer in the 13th. Rangers' starter Yu Darvish started the game and he allowed just an unearned run in five innings. He allowed just two base-runners, both being Yairo Munoz, who singled and walked. Munoz reached base four times with a single and three walks.
- The Stockton Ports dropped game one of their homestand to the San Jose Giants, 12-5. Heath Fillmyer struck-out eight in 4.2 innings, but he allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks. Alex Glenn tripled and walked in his Stockton debut. John Nogowski doubled and walked and also made a pitching appearance.
- James Naile threw a career-high seven innings in Beloit's 5-3 win over Cedar Rapids. Naile was nails, striking out nine and allowing just two runs (one earned). He lowered his ERA to 3.72. Edwin Diaz had two hits to raise his average to .273. He is batting .441 over his last 10 games.