OAKLAND — When asked what changes he had made to drop his ERA by over a run in the past month, new Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Homer Bailey said on Tuesday that perhaps he was “just getting lucky.”
If that was the case, Bailey’s good fortune – 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his previous five starts — continued on Wednesday afternoon.
In his first start since being traded from the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, Bailey spun a gem, earning the win as the A’s downed the Seattle Mariners 10-2. The win was Oakland’s sixth straight, and fifth in a row since the All-Star break — the franchise’s longest post-break winning streak in Oakland history. The A’s hit six homers — including a pair of two-run shots by Jurickson Profar — accounting for all 10 of their runs.
“The way that this team fights for nine innings is outstanding,” said Bailey. “It definitely gives you energy. I know if I can keep them close, they’re going to score runs and play great defense.”
Bailey’s new manager, Bob Melvin, was pleased with what he saw from the right-hander, who allowed two runs on seven hits, but struck out six and gave up no walks while striking out six over seven innings, throwing just 87 pitches. It was only the second time this season in which he has not issued a free pass and his first since April 28.
“I thought he did really well,” said Melvin. “For a guy that hadn’t pitched in basically two weeks, he shut it down when he needed to. I thought it was a really good start for him.”
After stressing how little he knew about the A’s during his introduction to local media on Tuesday, Bailey needed only two innings to adjust to his new club, clamping down on the Seattle offense after allowing four hits and two runs in the second. He would face the minimum over the next three innings.
Bailey also benefited from several nice plays by his defense, including a forward-lunging catch by Chad Pinder that may have saved a run in the first inning. Pinder would later move to third when Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman left in the third with left ankle soreness. Chapman is listed as day-to-day.
“I feel like what makes winning teams and what’s probably helped these guys is not just their offensive production, but they play both sides of the baseball,” Bailey said. “To see the way they play both sides of the ball and the energy they bring for the entire game is really spectacular.”
Ramon Laureano later added another web gem to his growing highlight reel, robbing Tim Beckham of a home run in the deepest part of the ballpark in the eighth inning.
Even without team home run leader Chapman — 9-for-15 with four extra-base hits, seven RBIs and four runs scored since the All-Star break — the power of the Oakland bats would provide Bailey with all the support he would need.
Jurickson Profar hit a pair of two-run shots, Mark Canha hit two solo homers, Pinder hit a three-run jack and Laureano added a solo drive.
“It’s what we do,” Melvin said. “We’re able to hit the ball out of the ballpark really one through nine. When we’re hitting on all cylinders it really doesn’t matter where we are in the lineup. We feel like we’ve got a good chance to score.”
The double-dinger effort gave Canha his first career multi-homer game, as he finished the five-game homestand 8-for-18 with three home runs and four RBIs. Canha has feasted on Seattle pitching throughout his career, with his 13 homers and 28 RBIs his best against any team.
Meanwhile, Laureano has homered five times in his last seven games and is up to 19 on the year, second in the majors among center fielders, behind only Mike Trout. The 25-year-old is now one home run shy of the high mark for home runs by an A’s center fielder in the past 20 years (Coco Crisp had 20 in 2013).
Oakland (55-41) is now a season-high 14 games above .500 and sit a half game up on the Cleveland Indians for the second AL wild card (the Indians’ game against the Tigers had yet to finish by press time) and a half game back of the Tampa Bay Rays, whose game against the Yankees on Wednesday was postponed.
Heading into a pivotal seven-game road trip in which they will face off against division leaders Minnesota and Houston, the A’s could hardly be any hotter. Oakland has won eight of its last nine, 12 of its last 14 and 19 of its last 24. The team’s 19 wins in the last month, dating back to June 17, lead the majors.
On Thursday, the A’s open up a four-game series against the Twins, from whom they took two out of three in their last meeting in Oakland. Mike Fiers (9-3. 3.61 ERA) will get the ball for the A’s against Kyle Gibson (8-4, 4.03 ERA).