OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin sat in his usual spot of the home dugout at the Coliseum before Saturday’s game, perplexed as he struggled to come up with a justification for Matt Chapman not being named among the list of American League All-Star finalists. A few hours later, Chapman
OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin sat in his usual spot of the home dugout at the Coliseum before Saturday’s game, perplexed as he struggled to come up with a justification for Matt Chapman not being named among the list of American League All-Star finalists. A few hours later, Chapman provided his reaction to the perceived snub on the field.
For the second time in three days, Chapman found himself in a critical late-inning situation against Rays reliever Diego Castillo. And for a second time, the A’s third baseman came through again as he put the A’s ahead for good with a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning of a 4-2 victory.
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Chapman, who ended Thursday night’s game with a walk-off homer against Castillo, said the first experience against the right-hander was useful on Saturday. The pitch he connected on in Thursday’s game was a slider down in the zone that he guessed right on. Looking for something in the middle of the zone on Saturday, Chapman got it in the form of a 99 mph sinker on a 2-2 count that he smashed into center field.
“It’s good to see those guys multiple times. He’s never a fun at-bat,” Chapman said. “He’s got great stuff, regardless of command. I was confident in that at-bat, just trying to battle. You can’t think big in that at-bat, just take what you can get.”
It was the second time in the game that Chapman put the A’s ahead, as he also clubbed a solo homer off Rays starter Yonny Chirinos in the third to break a 1-1 tie. The homer was Chapman’s 18th of the season and, to further strengthen his All-Star case, his 10th go-ahead home run, which leads the AL.
Chapman is an American League Gold Glove Award winner with an emerging explosive bat, but the best skill he may have shown off on Saturday was his ability to be a good salesman. Melvin revealed that he was planning to give Chapman a day off, but he was quickly talked out of that decision by the third baseman upon arriving to the A’s clubhouse.
“That just shows you the type of player he is,” Melvin said of Chapman, who pushed his hitting streak to nine games with a 2-for-4 day. “He does everything really well. He steps up in the bigger situations. The better players end up stepping up in those situations. He did it again today. Thank goodness he played.”
With the top three vote-getters at each position advancing to the All-Star Starters Election, Chapman was excluded after finishing seventh in votes at third base. His manager and teammates might have a lot to say about that, but Chapman isn’t really sweating whether or not he gets selected.
“I understand some of those other teams might have the advantage with fan votes and things like that,” Chapman said. “I’m just happy to be up here with my teammates and winning. An All-Star Game would be amazing, but that’s out of my control.”
Hendriks records first save
Liam Hendriks got the call over closer Blake Treinen in the ninth and slammed the door on Tampa Bay with a perfect inning to secure his first save of the year. After the game, Treinen was placed on the 10-day injured list with a shoulder strain.
"I’m just happy with playing,” Hendriks said. “We’ve got guys that can do a lot of things. If I pitch in the sixth, seventh, eighth, first, third, doesn’t bother me.”
Fiers dances around danger
Mike Fiers continued what has been a strong run over the past two months, holding the Rays to one run on four hits and three walks, striking out two over six innings of work.
“It’s too bad that Mike didn’t get the win, as hard as he worked the entire game,” Melvin said of Fiers, who has gone at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed in each of his past seven starts. “He got out of some jams and deserved a little better fate as far as the win/loss. Pitched really well again.”
The outing went relatively smoothly, save for a third inning that saw Tampa Bay load the bases with no outs. Fiers allowed a game-tying run on a sacrifice fly, but he pitched his way out of the jam for a nice confidence boost.
“Bases loaded and no outs, I blacked out,” Fiers said with a laugh. “I just started throwing whatever. Tried to make some pitches to get out of that inning, and I was fortunate to get out with just the one run. After that, I felt like it was a new game.”
Fiers received a big assist in that third from Ramon Laureano, whose notorious strong arm prevented Brandon Lowe from trying to score on a deep flyout to center that could have given the Rays a second run. Lowe went back to the third-base bag looking as if he might take a risk, but he thought better as Laureano fired a throw to Josh Phegley at home.
“He’s waiting for it. You could see him out there,” Fiers said of Laureano. “He fields the ball and takes an extra split second to see if the runner takes the bait. Ramon’s just baiting those guys to run and throws them out.”
Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.