Chapman stars in A’s rout of Halos
Freshly named to ASG, slugger tallies career-high six RBIs
ANAHEIM -- It was going to be difficult to top the feeling Matt Chapman enjoyed after the news he received on Sunday morning, but his performance just a few hours later may have topped it.
On the day Chapman learned he was selected to his first All-Star team in just his second full big league season, he went out and celebrated the milestone by turning in a career-best performance in a 12-3 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium. The All-Star third baseman set a career high with six RBIs as part of a 3-for-5 game.
“That was a nice little encore, right?” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t know if finding out before inspired him or not, but it seems like he’s had quite a few of those games. Every time we needed a big hit today to add on, it was him.”
Chapman’s monster day at the plate began in the fifth when he unleashed on a 1-2 changeup from Andrew Heaney for a three-run blast that gave the A’s a four-run cushion. Like the one he mashed off former teammate Trevor Cahill the game before, Chapman’s home run on Sunday was sent the opposite way to right and cleared the yellow line below the scoreboard.
Upon his return to the dugout, Chapman was greeted with high fives all around from his teammates, who had already celebrated plenty with the third baseman in the clubhouse when the All-Star news first broke.
“He’s one of the best players in MLB,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt said. “If he’s not an All-Star, I don’t know who is. The best defender in all of baseball, so he definitely should be an All-Star.”
The home run alone would have made it a nice afternoon for Chapman as it extended his on-base streak to 17 games, but his efforts in a seven-run eighth inning made it a game to remember.
The inning began with Chapman tripling off the wall in right field, and it was capped with him coming up for a second time in the inning and clearing the bases with a three-run double. He matched a career high for extra-base hits in a game with three. Over his last 16 games, Chapman is batting .362 (21-for-58) with 14 extra-base hits.
Chapman wasn’t exactly sure if finding out about the All-Star selection beforehand had any correlation with the breakout game, nor did he really care. What stuck out to him from this day was finishing off a six-game road trip at 5-1.
“Probably just a coincidence, but it feels good,” Chapman said. “Getting that news this morning felt like I was getting called up. I didn’t know what to expect. Then to go out and take three of four from an Angels team that’s neck-and-neck with us feels good, especially coming back off a quick turnaround.”
Though Chapman did his best to shun the spotlight away from himself on his big day, his teammates and manager had no problem discussing their joy of seeing the team leader get selected to represent the club in Cleveland for All-Star week.
“There isn’t a guy in this clubhouse that didn’t have a good feeling about him making it,” Melvin said. “Then to get voted in by the players, I think that’s the biggest feather in his cap. If you’re going to make a game like that, getting voted in by the players means a lot.”
Bassitt does his part
Bassitt kept a tough Angels lineup in check for the most part, holding them to two runs on five hits and one walk, while racking up seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
Entering the day with a 5.66 ERA over his previous seven starts, including his most recent outing in which he lasted a season-low 3 1/3 innings, Bassitt bounced back and displayed good life on a fastball that reached as high as 96 mph. That along with his slow curveball allowed Bassitt to keep Angels hitters off-balance.
Bassitt felt the key on Sunday was limiting the walks. He issued just one free pass after allowing at least two in each of his previous four starts. Of course, it also helps when you get an offensive explosion like the one that was provided for him.
“Just don’t walk guys and you’ll get a win,” Bassitt said. “Getting 12 runs is pretty easy to pitch behind.”
The A’s return home having won 13 of their last 18 games, and they are now a season-high seven games over .500. They’ll open up a quick homestand with a three-game series against the Twins on Tuesday, looking to keep the momentum from a 5-1 road trip rolling.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Chapman said. “To go 5-1 in six games is great. Now we take this off-day and finish the first half strong heading into the All-Star break. Second half is when I feel our team really kicks it into gear.”