A's break out brooms, HR hammer in 1st sweep of '23

Bevy of homers, hot-hitting Noda and Sears' 1st win lift Oakland to 5 straight victories

June 11th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Even as the A’s found themselves in an early 2-0 deficit on Sunday, the positivity generated from clinching their third series victory in their past four tries was going to be enough to send them home feeling good regardless of the outcome in the series finale against the Brewers.

Instead, two swings of the bat ensured a full-on “happy flight” back to Oakland.

Heading to the plate in the fourth with two runners on and the A’s trailing by two runs, battled back from a quick 0-2 count against Freddy Peralta by fouling off five of the next eight pitches he saw. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, after fouling three consecutive fastballs, Brown got another heater left over the zone and sent it just over the wall in right for a go-ahead three-run blast.

“That’s an at-bat that changes games,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “He wore Peralta down. You could see him getting closer and closer. … It was a great at-bat and one that really impacted the game.”

There was little time to celebrate Brown’s clutch moment in the A’s dugout. Just three pitches later, provided some insurance in what ended up an 8-6 A’s victory -- securing their first series sweep of 2023 -- by connecting for a towering shot into the second deck in left field at American Family Field.

The win was Oakland’s fifth consecutive, marking the club’s longest such streak since it won five straight in September 2021. The A’s come away from a nine-game, three-city road trip at 5-4. It’s their first winning road trip of the season, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that it began with four straight losses.

Now the club heads back to Oakland for a four-game set with the Rays, who boast MLB’s best record. Though the A’s still hold the worst record at 17-50, they’ll enter the matchup as one of the Majors’ hottest teams, having outscored opponents 35-16 during this five-game winning streak.

Here are three takeaways from the trip.

1. The vibes are immaculate
Kevin Smith’s solo home run in the seventh produced a moment that perfectly encapsulated the positive vibes of this road trip. Returning from his trek around the bases, Smith was handed the A’s homer hammer -- modeled after the one used by Marvel superhero Thor for their home run celebration.

Making his way through the line of high-fives in the dugout, Smith swung the hammer so hard that the top piece flew completely off the handle, drawing a roar of laughs from his teammates. Luckily, Rooker located the missing piece and held the hammer back together.

“The last time I [homered], I didn’t swing it, and some guys were giving me some [flak] for it,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to swing it this time.’ I think I might have hit something, but it just kind of flung right off when I slammed it. It was funny, though. Looking back and seeing [catcher Shea Langeliers’] reaction was hilarious.”

2. Noda Appreciation Week
had several family members following him on the first two legs of this trip in Miami and Pittsburgh. His arrival to Milwaukee, about an hour away from Noda’s hometown of Volo, Ill., was the grand finale.

Noda estimated about 100 people showed up to support him for Friday’s series opener, ranging from high school coaches to his second-grade teacher. That group grew even larger on Saturday, with an entire Noda family barbecue taking place in one of the lots just outside American Family Field.

In return, the rookie first baseman showed his appreciation by putting together an impressive road trip that featured five multihit efforts. Over nine games, Noda went 11-for-34 with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and 10 walks.

“I can’t imagine having 100 people that you kind of have to entertain,” Kotsay said. “The joy of it all is that they’re here for him and have a chance to watch him have success at this level.”

3. JP finally gets a ‘W’
has performed as Oakland’s most consistent starter all year, yet he entered the day without a win on his record. That changed Sunday, as he received major support from his offense after limiting Milwaukee to two runs on six hits and no walks with five strikeouts over five innings.

Sears’ outing followed an upward trend by the rotation over this win streak, which was highlighted by six scoreless innings from 2022 All-Star Paul Blackburn on Saturday.

“Having Paul back is huge,” Sears said. “He gives us the stability of knowing he’s going to go out there and give us six or seven innings every time. Having a guy like that around, you build off that. Every guy that goes out there after him wants to match him or try to do better.”