Gelof's 3 hits spark team effort as A's end skid

Rooker, Langeliers club Oakland's first back-to-back homers of 2024 vs. D-backs

June 29th, 2024

PHOENIX -- The A’s spent Thursday’s off-day in Scottsdale, where the temperature reached 112 degrees. They could only hope that some of that heat would transfer to their bats and arms, as the club was riding a five-game losing streak overall and an 11-game skid on the road, which was tied for the fifth longest in club history.

On Friday night at Chase Field, that came to fruition in the form of a slump-busting 9-4 win over the D-backs that saw improved results from top to bottom.

Here are the three biggest reasons they pulled it off:

Gelof gets right
It’s been a tough year for , who broke in the big leagues last season with 14 homers and 20 doubles in 69 games but entered the series opener hitting .196 on the season, with one day over the Mendoza line since April 22. But after going 3-for-4 with a tie-breaking RBI triple in the eighth inning that gave the A’s the lead for good on Friday, he’s back up to .205.

"Great night for Zack,” said manager Mark Kotsay. "He’s been working really hard, the month of June has been a lot better than the months of April and May for him and he’s finishing up this month pretty strongly.”

In addition to the go-ahead three-bagger in the big eighth inning, Gelof provided the initial spark that ignited the offense -- and that was before he recorded any of his three hits.

With the A’s in an 0-2 hole after two listless innings against D-backs starter Slade Cecconi, Gelof opened the third by swinging at back-to-back sliders off the plate, but he battled back from the 0-2 count, earned a walk, stole second base and scored on the first of consecutive RBI singles from Brent Rooker and Shea Langeliers.

"I feel like when I get to two strikes I just have to trust that I know the strike zone and I’m going to battle and compete. Whatever happens happens,” Gelof said.

The 24-year-old is 499 at-bats into his MLB career. Has it gotten easier to maintain that approach?

"I don’t think [hitting in the big leagues] is ever getting easier,” he said, "but I feel like I’m learning a lot and hopefully getting better is part of that, too.”

Sears stays with it
got thumped by the Twins last Saturday, allowing eight runs in 1 1/3 innings in his second straight start against them. He needed to bounce back in a big way if he was going to help pull the A’s out of their rut.

He was able to do so on Friday, but only after some early troubles.

Ten pitches into his outing, the D-backs had three hits and a 2-0 lead, but the 28-year-old lefty strapped in and put together his sixth quality start of the season.

"I think this kid is a grinder, he’s a competitor,” Kotsay said. “He knew what he needed to do tonight, and to get punched in the face in the first inning after 10 pitches and be down two runs, he could have easily crumbled. He could have had a bad night, and he turned it around."

Sears finished with three runs allowed in six innings, striking out six on 83 pitches, consistently filling up the zone and attacking an aggressive Arizona lineup.

"Obviously that’s a tough way to start the game after the last two games I’ve had,” Sears said. “I just told myself I’m not going to let this happen … make good pitches and just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Late homers don’t get in the way of Miller Time
After the three-run eighth inning, the A’s were sitting on a 6-4 lead and Kotsay called for rookie phenom Mason Miller to warm up for the ninth. The closer with the 100-plus mph fastball hadn’t had a save opportunity in a week.

But Rooker and Langeliers began the ninth with the A’s first back-to-back home runs of the season, putting Oakland up by more than the three-run requirement for Miller to earn a save.

"I talked to him after the game. I let him know we were sorry, but he said he would prefer we just keep hitting homers,” Rooker said.

Miller confirmed the tale.

"I told him that anytime they want, they can hit homers,” Miller said. “Eighth inning, whenever, especially if he’s going to hit it as far as he hit that one."

The A’s rank fourth in the American League with 96 home runs, so why did it take until June 28 to hit their first back to back? Rooker has a theory.

“Me and Shea both had 14 and then I hit 15, so he had to also hit 15,” Rooker joked.