Before the Oakland A’s embarked on their two-city mini trip, manager Bob Melvin advised that a team is never as bad as it is at its worst or as good as it is at its best.
Melvin was speaking, in particular, of his slumping offense. Before shelling Ian Kennedy and the Kansas City Royals 16-0 on Friday night, the A’s had been mired in a prolonged offensive funk. On the just-completed 10-game homestand, Oakland had managed four runs or more on only two occasions.
The visit to Kauffman Stadium to play the Royals — who ended the evening with a 20-37 record — was just what the A’s needed to prove Melvin right. The A’s pummeled the Royals with 16 hits, including two home runs off the bat of Matt Olson.
Olson began the barrage in the second inning, booming a 428-foot home run to right field, his second homer in as many days and just the beginning of his impressive shift.
An inning later, the A’s stunned Kennedy with a seven-run barrage. All the damage, which began with Jed Lowrie working a bases-loaded walk, came before Kennedy retired so much as a single Oakland hitter.
Khris Davis followed Lowrie with a two-run single, and Olson added his second home run — at 456 feet, even more majestic than his first.
Olson finished up 3-for-5 with five RBI. His 11 home run leaves him second on the team only behind Davis and his 13 long balls.
Heading into the beatdown of the Royals, Olson was fifth in baseball with an average exit velocity of 94.3 mph. Olson’s first homer left his bat at an exit velocity of 108 mph. The second exited at 110 mph.
“Every sound that left his bat today — even the outs — were clicked and had a different sound,” Melvin told reporters. “So, we saw what he could do last year when he got hot. It looks like he’s hopefully starting one of those streaks right now.”
Fowler capped the seven-run inning — the first of two on the night — with a solo blast. The A’s also dropped seven runs on the Royals in the top of the ninth, this time Fowler was in the middle of the blitz, delivering a three-run homer that scored Olson and Stephen Piscotty.
The pair of outbursts supplied Frankie Montas with far more support than he needed in his second start with the A’s.
Five days after spinning six one-run innings in his 2018 debut, the 25-year-old was even better against the Royals, throwing eight scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out two.
“Throwing 98 mph and you’re throwing a 95 mph sinker and then to have some off-speed stuff in your back pocket when you need it, that’s pretty impressive,” Melvin said.
The two-start sample size is far too small to draw any meaningful conclusions, but the early returns are encouraging for an A’s team that has grasped for quality starting pitching. Only two starters — Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden — have made all their turns in the rotation. Opening day right-hander Kendall Graveman is on the disabled list in Triple-A. Montas stands as the ninth pitcher to start with just over a third of the season gone.
With an off day looming next Monday, the 2-0 Montas likely won’t get another chance to prove himself until Thursday, when the A’s welcome the Royals to the Coliseum. The opportunity to face the same opponent in back-to-back outings would provide a compelling early test for Montas.