A's hit 5 HRs to stay atop AL Wild Card race

September 14th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The A's are threatening the single-season franchise record for home runs, so it's not surprising when they string together wins by simply mashing.

The A's had a few statistical advantages heading into their game vs. the Rangers on Friday. They've spent the season building towards possibly toppling a 23-year club homer record. They also traditionally hit well at Globe Life Park, and especially this year. Also, they're on a roll, coming off a thrilling series win over the Astros in Houston before arriving to Arlington. And, of course, they have as a not-so-secret weapon

Oakland won for the ninth time in its past 11 games, topping Texas, 14-9. The A’s hit five homers to raise their season total to 238, five away from tying the club record of 243 set in 1996.

The A’s maintained their half-game lead for the top American League Wild Card over the Rays, who beat the Angels. The Indians' game against the Twins was postponed due to rain, so Cleveland is one game behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card spot.

Two of the A’s homers belonged to Davis, which didn’t really surprise anyone -- not Davis, not his teammates, not manager Bob Melvin and, apparently, not Rangers fans, either.

“The fans are almost cheering for me,” Davis said with a chuckle. “They're giving me a hard time, but I can hear them. They tell me to take it easy on them. That gives me some confidence.”

Davis' 19 homers at Globe Life Park rank second by a visiting player behind only former A's slugger Jason Giambi.

Davis has been heating up lately, and not just in Arlington. He had five hits in 12 at-bats during the first three games of the series in Houston before going 0-for-4 in Thursday's finale.

“Really, in the last 10 days or so, he's swung the bat pretty well, other than the last game in Houston,” Melvin said. “Boy, if he comes around, it'll add a little special element to our lineup that we've seen quite often in the past. Games like this can get you going.”

Davis wasn’t the only one who swung a hot bat. The A's and Rangers each hit a pair of three-run homers. But the A's tacked on three more, while the Rangers' bats went cold following Danny Santana's three-run shot off Chris Bassitt in the third.

's three-run blast in the sixth was the most dramatic. Not only did it break a 7-7 tie, but it also happened seconds after the Rangers decided to intentionally walk Marcus Semien, who was hitless in his first three plate appearances. Semien’s two-run blast in the ninth sealed the landslide win.

The Rangers’ decision to walk Semien was made after the leadoff man had worked Ian Gibaut to a 3-0 count. This didn’t give Laureano much time to take exception to the slight while he was on deck, but still, it may have fueled him just a little during his short stride to the plate. This wasn’t the first time Laureano went deep following an intentional walk.

“He's got a little of that in him,” Melvin said. “But shoot, you understand the way Marcus has been swinging, it's a 3-0 count, you reset and go on to the next guy. But Laureano's got a little edge to him.”

Laureano downplayed any suggestion that the walk gave him an extra jolt.

“I don't think so,” Laureano said. “You just have a present moment, focus on my approach and the situation.”

The A's have hit 16 homers at Globe Live Park, more than any other visiting ballpark they've played at this year. They had 14 homers during a four-game series at Camden Yards in April.

Relievers slam the door

With Chris Bassitt's pitch count climbing at an alarming rate and him struggling early in the game, it was clear the A's were going to have to turn to their bullpen earlier than anticipated. J.B. Wendelken and A.J. Puk collectively slammed the door on the Rangers' offense, recording five perfect innings following Bassitt's exit after the third frame.

Wendelken retired nine straight in a 34-pitch outing, inducing six ground balls and striking out two. Puk needed 24 pitches to record six outs in the seventh and eighth.

“When everything's going right ... all you need to do is hold everybody off for a couple of innings and let [the offense] fire up,” Wendelken said. “These guys can swing it, and it's awesome, because you're never out of it. You're always right there.”

“We really needed it,” Melvin said. “On a day that Chris usually gives us five, six, seven innings. A little bit of an off night for him allowed us to pick him up.”