Taylor hits 1st MLB jack as A's rout Baltimore

Backstop's solo shot is 1 of 6 Oakland homers on night

June 19th, 2019

OAKLAND -- With all the home runs that left the yard on Tuesday night, it’s usually difficult to pinpoint the most impressive in such a power display of epic proportions. But one homer easily stood out from the rest this time around.

Just hours after manager Bob Melvin indicated would get the first real opportunity of his big league career with an increase in playing time, the catcher made his skipper look like a genius when he stepped to the plate and mashed a 2-2 fastball from Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa over the right-center-field wall for a solo home run. The home run was Taylor’s first in the Majors and the first of six A’s homers on the night as they routed the Orioles, 16-2, at the Coliseum.

Taylor’s first career jack was a long time coming. It hasn’t been a smooth road to the big leagues for the 29-year-old rookie. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by Oakland, Taylor’s grind through the Minors included five consecutive seasons stalemated at Double-A Midland from 2012-16 before finally earning a promotion to Triple-A.

“Words can’t really describe it,” Taylor said. “It kind of felt like deja vu a little bit. I feel like I’ve done it before. But no, that was the first time.”

After Taylor unloaded on the fastball left up in the zone, he even took some extra measures to ensure the ball had enough to sail over the high wall.

“I knew I hit it good, but I kind of just blew at it to try to get it to go,” Taylor laughed. “I knew I had it good and when it finally went out, it felt great.”

Upon his return to the A’s dugout, Taylor was given the cold shoulder from his teammates with the tried-and-true traditional silent treatment.

“I think originally he thought he was going to get a little love and then he didn’t,” Melvin said. “You knew that was probably coming.”

Taylor did his best to try to get them to break character with a couple of icebreakers, but it was to no avail as the rest of the A’s took a few extra moments to finish off the brilliant acting job before finally erupting and mobbing the catcher.

“I was not expecting that,” Taylor said. “I tried to high-five all of them or maybe fake punch them to get a reaction but they did pretty well.”

It was a feel-good moment for Taylor in the midst of a big league stint that will create more chances for these types of moments with catcher Nick Hundley sidelined for at least six weeks after undergoing knee surgery Tuesday afternoon.

After a brief stay in the Majors last year as a September call up, which had more of a deer-in-the-headlights feel as he sought the get his feet underneath him, Taylor is looking to do a little more damage this time around.

“I do feel more confident just because of the fact that I got up here last year in September and got my feet wet,” Taylor said. “I feel like that helped me mature and know what these guys expect. That extra confidence helps.”

The six home runs by the A’s were the most home runs they’ve hit in a game since June 17, 2008 at Arizona, and it's first time they’ve accomplished the feat at the Coliseum since Sept. 11, 2003, in a game against the Angels.

Khris Davis, Ramon Laureano, Robbie Grossman, Stephen Piscotty and Chad Pinder were the other A’s to flex their muscle Tuesday night, with three of those homers coming in a season-high 10-run sixth inning, the first time they’ve scored 10 runs in one frame at the Coliseum since July 5, 1996.

Ditching the .500 mark
The victory puts the A’s two games above .500, a mark they are fighting to distance themselves from as they get deeper into the season. After sitting at .500 eight different times this month, this is the first time they’ve been more than a game above an even record in June.

It was around this same time last year when the A’s took off and made their run to the playoffs that culminated in a spot as the second American League Wild Card. The A’s never returned .500 after they were 36-36 in 2018, and they have an opportunity to do the same again, now 38-36.

“History shows our team does pretty well in the second half,” Melvin said. “We’re not quite there yet, so hopefully we can play out the string to the second half and get ourselves a little cushion over .500.”

Anderson goes deep
With all the focus on the offensive outburst, Brett Anderson quietly put together one of his finest starts of the season. Beginning his night by retiring the first nine batters he faced, Anderson turned in his longest outing of the year by completing seven innings as he allowed just two runs (one earned) on three hits. The left-hander kept the ball on the ground often, inducing grounders on 11 of his 21 outs, and worked quickly, as evidenced by the game time of 2:28, despite such a high-scoring affair. His only real blemish was a home run surrendered to Jonathan Villar in the fifth.

“That’s what he does,” Melvin said. “Early in the game the ball was on the ground and it was almost a shock to see the home run because he was rolling along pretty good. Keeping the ball on the ground and early contact. When Brett’s good, that’s what he does.”