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Davis' speed makes difference in A's win

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The A's victory over the Mariners on Saturday, secured with a run in the top of the ninth inning, all started with an infield single.

Rajai Davis was an unsung hero of sorts for the A's in their 4-3 win over the Mariners, laying down a slow chopper that Kyle Seager, a Gold Glove third baseman, couldn't deliver to first in time in a bang-bang play.

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SEATTLE -- The A's victory over the Mariners on Saturday, secured with a run in the top of the ninth inning, all started with an infield single.

Rajai Davis was an unsung hero of sorts for the A's in their 4-3 win over the Mariners, laying down a slow chopper that Kyle Seager, a Gold Glove third baseman, couldn't deliver to first in time in a bang-bang play.

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Simply being on base forced Mariners closer Edwin Diaz into the stretch and allowed Davis to cause even more havoc. He swiped second right after Diaz struck out Matt Joyce and scored the go-ahead run on Ryon Healy's ground-rule double.

"[It was] really big," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Davis' speed. "Not only is he on base, but you saw the pitchouts and the throw overs and every thing else, it takes a little focus off the pitcher and even on second base, you have to be careful of him. That was impactful."

Davis was the right man to have in that situation. His top end sprint speed on the base hit was 30.3 feet per second, according to Statcast™, which is characterized as an elite time. His average sprint speed on the season is 29.1 feet per second, seventh-fastest in the American League.

"Anytime I get a chopper like that, infield back, I'm expecting that to be a hit," Davis said with a chuckle.

Being an integral part of the win felt great for Davis, who is in a tough stretch in his career.

Coming off a World Series appearance in 2016 with the Indians and pegged as the A's Opening Day starter in center field after being signed in the offseason, Davis is only hitting .210 on the season and is oftentimes stuck on the outside looking in of a crowded outfield.

His playing time has diminished since the A's called up rookie center fielder Jaycob Brugman from Triple-A Nashville on June 9, with slugger Khris Davis claiming most of the starts in left with Brugman starting 22 of the last 29 games in center field.

Davis has handled the situation well, according to Melvin.

"He has been great," Melvin said. "You worry about veteran guys that were brought in for a reason and then all the sudden were short-cheated a little bit. He couldn't handle it better. He's ready to play any time I want him to come in off the bench. He'll even take that at-bat late in the game when he hasn't started when we are way ahead or way behind. He just likes to play. He just likes to be apart of the team.

"Maybe internally [he is] a little disappointed. But he never shows it in the clubhouse. He's always in a good mood. He's always geared, prepared and ready to play."

And with Davis, his speed provides a unique skill that can change games, as was the case Saturday.

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the A's on Saturday.

Oakland Athletics, Rajai Davis