A's bats buck trend vs. lefty Elias
OAKLAND -- The A's entered Thursday's series opener with the Mariners 4-14 when the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher, which is the second-worst clip in the Majors, compared to their 32-31 record vs. righty starters.
The A's were batting .240 against lefties and .265 against righties, and Seattle had three southpaw starters lined up along with righty ace Felix Hernandez. It seemed like a recipe for disaster.
But those struggles vanished as Oakland won the series opener, 4-0, by getting to Seattle lefty Roenis Elias.
"Hopefully we can play a bit better against left-handed pitching," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's been a little bit of a mystery as to why we haven't, because we do have some guys that can do some damage against lefties."
Thursday was a step in the right direction for the A's. Josh Phegley drove in two with an RBI double in the first, Marcus Semien hit a solo home run off Elias in the fifth and Mark Canha brought in Brett Lawrie in the seventh with his first career triple, off right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
Phegley, Semien and Canha were a combined 3-for-33 on the homestand coming into the matchup.
On a night that belonged to starter Scott Kazmir, the A's bats did enough to provide the left-hander a cushion and give Oakland its second straight win.
"We've just got to keep grinding away," Semien said. "Whenever we get a lefty just stick with our approach and learn from what we did tonight."
In total, the A's had six hits -- three off Elias -- but their hits came in a timely manner.
In the first, after Ben Zobrist walked and Billy Butler doubled, Phegley hit a two-out flare down the right-field line to plate two.
"He threw something, I guess, within a bat's reach and I happened to put it on the chalk," Phegley said. "With two guys on and two outs in the first inning, that's just a good way to set the tone for the game."
Semien's line-drive blast was his first home run since May 12, snapping a 45-game drought that was the longest of his career.