One-eyed Olson slugs HR in first game back

May 3rd, 2021

OAKLAND -- proved that he really only needs the ability to see clearly out of one eye to do damage at the plate.

Returning from a swollen left eye that kept him out of action over the previous three games, Olson sparked a slumping A’s offense in Sunday’s 7-5 win over the Orioles with a 3-for-4 performance, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle.

Olson, whose left eye was still visibly purple and a bit puffy from the ball that hit him during batting practice in Tampa Bay a few days prior, stepped into the box against Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann in the third and flexed his muscle with a booming two-run shot that was crushed 106.5 mph off the bat and sailed 418 feet to straightaway center.

A’s right-hander Chris Bassitt, who joined the A’s television broadcast as a guest during the inning, broke out an impromptu home run call as soon as the ball left Olson’s bat.

“Oh my gosh! Olson, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?” Bassitt marveled. “Trevor Bauer has to love Matt Olson. The guy is playing with one eye!”

It was quite an impressive feat for Olson, especially when you consider that A’s manager Bob Melvin had declared the first baseman’s chances to play Sunday as “doubtful” when speaking to reporters the day before. But on Sunday morning, Melvin said he received a text message from Olson with three simple words: “I’m in there.”

“That eye is nothing compared to what it looked like, even yesterday,” Melvin said. “I thought we were going to wait at least one more day for him to play. Not only was he able to hit, he was able to play on the field.”

Though Ramón Laureano’s Herculean effort stole the show late in the win on Sunday, Olson’s re-emergence can’t be understated. Prior to Sunday’s game, the A’s were hitting .185 as a team over their last seven games and had scored no more than four runs in each of those contests. So it’s probably not a coincidence that Olson, who upped his average to .314 and leads the team in homers (7) and RBIs (19), got the A’s back to their high-scoring ways.

“That’s a big pick-me-up for us,” Melvin said. “Without him, it’s probably a different game.”