Chapman extends streak in loss to Rangers

Homer gives third baseman hits in 16 straight games; late rally falls short

June 30th, 2021

OAKLAND -- continues to put his early-season slump in the rearview mirror.

Swinging one of the hottest bats in baseball, it only took Chapman one pitch to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 games with a solo homer in the first inning to provide the A’s an early one-run lead. The streak remains the longest active mark in the Majors and second-longest in the American League this season, behind Jose Altuve’s stretch of 17.

But as encouraging as it has been for the A’s to see Chapman’s resurgence, the rest of the offense has trended in the opposite direction. After scoring 11 runs over their three-game series loss in San Francisco over the weekend, the A’s returned home with the majority of their lineup still struggling to get much going. Though they mounted a late comeback attempt with a pair of solo home runs by Jed Lowrie and Mitch Moreland in the ninth, Oakland fell to the Rangers, 5-4, for its seventh loss in the last 10 games.

“We always feel like we have a chance in the last inning,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve seen it many times here at home. We had the winning run at the plate. Just one hit short.”

James Kaprielian worked through most of Texas’ lineup without much issue. The exception was slugger Joey Gallo, who twice took him deep for solo shots in the fourth and sixth. Still, the rookie right-hander churned out another quality start, limiting the Rangers to three runs on six hits with six strikeouts over six innings.

Though he was ultimately charged with the loss, Kaprielian just missed a chance to be off the hook for a decision. Just before the A’s struck back for their two late runs in the ninth off Rangers closer Ian Kennedy, right-hander Domingo Acevedo allowed a one-run deficit to increase to three with a two-run homer allowed to Nick Solak in the top half of the ninth.

Despite the solid effort, Kaprielian said he “deserved the loss” for his two mistakes against Gallo. Leaving him especially frustrated was the first homer given up, which came on a 3-1 fastball.

“He got me twice tonight, which burns a little bit,” Kaprielian said of Gallo. “Falling behind in a 3-1 count there, I don’t have to give him that pitch, and I did. If I’m able to throw my changeup there or something else, he might spit on it and not take that swing. He’s looking for that fastball. That’s the one he’s going to do damage with, and he got me tonight.”

There were a couple of positives for the A’s to take away, even on a night in which they were unable to gain ground in the American League West standings with Houston losing to the Orioles.

The first bright spot is Chapman. Working his way back from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip last September, the A’s third baseman is inching closer to the hitting form he displayed in 2019 as an All-Star. Over the 16-game hit streak, he’s raised his batting average from .201 to .230. Tuesday’s homer on a first-pitch fastball from Texas starter Mike Foltynewicz was also his sixth during that stretch to bring his season total to 11.

“I think he’s just getting more comfortable with his hip and his mechanics,” Melvin said. “The ball is traveling a lot farther. Even his batting practices seem to be a lot better.

“He’s just building up strength there and using his legs a little bit more. He’s starting to drive the ball more. It starts with his lower half, and we’re seeing a better lower half.”

There was also the late life shown by the offense. Held down to just four hits through seven innings against Foltynewicz, the A’s pushed Kennedy to the brink in the ninth. Following Moreland’s homer to cut the deficit to one run, Elvis Andrus singled to center to get on base as the possible game-tying run before Chad Pinder popped out on the first pitch he saw to end the threat.

“That gives us some confidence knowing that we can get to one of their better arms,” A’s left fielder Tony Kemp said. “We didn’t get to him when we were in Texas.

“To get some good swings off like that in the ninth is what this team is. Just resilient. Those were some big homers. It’ll carry over and we’ll come back strong on Wednesday.”