ARLINGTON -- Khris Davis came off the injured list on June 1, but Sunday afternoon was when he truly made his presence felt again.
Contained to one extra-base hit in the eight games since his return from a left hip/oblique contusion, Davis broke out in a 9-8 win over the Rangers at Globe Life Park by blasting a two-run homer to left-center off Rangers starter Drew Smyly. The home run was his 13th of the season and first since May 13.
“The power comes and goes,” Davis said. “I just have to stay within myself and weather the storm of the season. It just felt good to help the team out one time.”
It’s fitting that Davis’ power resurgence would begin against the Rangers. The success he’s enjoyed against Texas over the past few years is rivaled by few. Davis’ 146 home runs since the start of the 2016 season lead the Majors, and 30 of those have come against the Rangers. He’ll surely be disappointed with the closing of Globe Life Park at year’s end, the park in which he’s homered 17 times over his career, most by any active visiting player in MLB.
Davis finished the day 2-for-5 with three RBIs, and his homer in the third was one of two on the day for Oakland as Matt Olson also supplied some power with a two-run shot of his own off Smyly in the second.
“The homer was big, especially with the wind blowing in from left,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s a good sign for him: hit a home run in ballpark where he’s had a lot of success and then obviously a huge hit in the top of the ninth to give us a three-run lead.”
The A’s are a tired bunch after playing four games in the span of 48 hours, including a doubleheader on Saturday, but the nine-run offensive outburst will at least make their 2 1/2 hour flight to St. Petersburg a bit more enjoyable, having erased the bad taste from dropping both games of the twin bill the day before. After splitting four games in Texas, the A’s begin a three-game series against the Rays on Monday.
“At the end of the day, you look at the series and we’re 2-2,” Melvin said. “After losing the doubleheader, we were going to take a win any way we can get it. We gave some runs back, but thank goodness we got that last out.”
“It’s just an up-and-down roller coaster of a season,” Davis said. “I’m glad we pulled this one out. We needed this win.”
Montas keeps rolling
Frankie Montas has evolved into more of a groundball pitcher this season -- he entered the day with the fifth-highest groundball rate in the American League, at 51.5 percent -- but his power fastball also affords him to rack up the strikeout totals on certain days, and Sunday was one of those occasions.
Montas recorded the final six outs of his start via punchout to match his career high of 10 strikeouts. The slider appeared to be his favored pitch of the day. He threw it for 20 of his 97 pitches, recording five swing-and-misses and six called strikes, and he used it as the putaway pitch on five of his 10 strikeouts.
“He’s been the model of consistency,” Melvin said. “Wore him out as far as the pitch count -- it was hot out there and we didn’t want him going past 100 pitches. Starts out really strong and we score some runs early. Every time he takes the mound, we feel like we’re confident and are going to win the game.”
It was the 12th time in 13 starts this season that Montas has allowed three runs or fewer, as he held Texas to three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk over six innings.
“I like our chances when he’s pitching,” Davis said. “I’ll take Frankie any day.”
Cutting it close
After Montas departed with the A’s ahead, 8-3, the bullpen allowed Texas to slowly chip away at the lead as each inning went along. Davis’ RBI single in the top of the ninth proved to be a necessity as closer Blake Treinen allowed two runs in the bottom half, making it six runs allowed over his last eight innings pitched, before securing his 14th save of the year.
Melvin had left-hander Wei-Chung Wang warming up in the bullpen after Texas scored its second run, but he said he gave no thought to using Wang with the A’s still ahead.
“Blake has been really good for us,” Melvin said. “We have to stick with him during the rough times, as well.”