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Laureano ignites 8-spot as A's roll

@JesseSanchezMLB
August 4, 2020

Ramón Laureano did it again. He’s built a reputation for his jaw-dropping catches and incredible throwing arm, but it’s been his bat that has taken center stage this season. The center fielder drove in two runs in the A’s 11-1 blowout victory against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Monday

Ramón Laureano did it again.

He’s built a reputation for his jaw-dropping catches and incredible throwing arm, but it’s been his bat that has taken center stage this season.

The center fielder drove in two runs in the A’s 11-1 blowout victory against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Monday night to propel his team to its third victory in a row. The A’s record improves to 6-4, and they now own the top spot in the American League West.

Box score

Seven of Laureano’s nine RBIs this season have tied or put the A’s ahead in 2020. He finished 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and continues to improve. Khris Davis, who also went 2-for-3, hit his first home run of the season and could be on his way out of a season-long slump. He came into the game 1-for-21 and competing for playing time.

“You could tell he looked comfortable in the box today, so that’s a good start,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Davis. “We’ll see where we go from here, but obviously, we know that this guy is one of the bigger bats that we’ve ever had in our organization and my feeling was that it was just a matter of time.”

It was his 157th home run with the A's, sending him past Miguel Tejada for eighth in franchise history.

The A’s bats were struggling entering Monday’s matchup. The offense had scored a total of 30 runs all season and was among baseball’s worst with a .188 batting average. The team had managed eight hits or fewer in each of its previous nine games, the longest season-opening streak in franchise history.

The A’s were shut out on one hit for four innings by Mariners starter Justus Sheffield to start the game, and it appeared the offensive woes were going to continue.

Then it happened. The A’s scored eight runs with two outs on eight hits and batted around in the fifth inning to pull ahead, 8-1. It’s exactly the type of inning Melvin had been hoping for all season. The timing of the outburst could not have been better for his club, which starts a six-game homestand against the Rangers and Astros on Tuesday.

“We had some key at-bats up to that point, and typically that’s what happens when guys start putting good at-bats together,” Melvin said. “The next thing you know, we had an eight-run inning. It felt good.”

The offensive display did not overshadow a solid performance on the mound by Frankie Montas. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits. He struck out nine. His seven innings pitched were the longest by an A’s starter this season, and the outing could be a sign of things to come. Last year, the A’s were 16-4 when a starter pitched at least seven innings.

“Besides the four walks, it was good,” Montas said. “I feel like I was on the right pitch at the right moments. They were out there swinging, and I was able to control my secondary pitches.”

As for Davis, he lined out to center in the second inning and walked on nine pitches in the eventful fifth. Davis scampered to third on a pair of singles and tied the game at 1 when he came home on Laureano’s bases-loaded single to right field. He had an RBI single later in the inning to extend Oakland’s lead to 7-1.

Davis’ solo home run in the seventh made it 9-1, and he was hit by a pitch in the eighth.

Coming into Monday’s game, Davis had slashed .205/.283/.323 with 134 strikeouts and 13 home runs since April 22 of last season.

His aggressive approach hasn’t changed, but he’s made a few mechanical adjustments that allow him to get to the ball quicker. It’s uncertain whether the performance was enough to earn Davis a spot in the lineup regularly.

“He needed that today,” Montas said. “For him to have that day was huge.”

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.