OAKLAND — At the outset of the Oakland Athletics’ now completed 4-2 homestand, manager Bob Melvin admitted that it had become difficult to leave Chad Pinder out of the lineup.
The backup infielder — and sometime right fielder — continued to make things hard on his boss on Wednesday afternoon, bouncing a two-run homer off the top of the wall in the club’s 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“Honestly, off the bat I did not [think it was going out],” Pinder admitted of his fifth-inning blast. “I knew it had a chance to get in the gap and you never know what the winds going to do up top — here especially — and luckily I think the wind might have got a little bit of it and taken it out.”
During the six-game stretch at the Coliseum, Melvin wrote the rookie’s name into the lineup twice — once in right against the Detroit Tigers and at second on Wednesday against ex-Oakland right-hander Jesse Chavez.
“First and foremost, he’s a hitter,” Melvin explained. “And you see a game where hits are at a premium — let alone extra-base hits. He goes to right-center field on a ball that’s really middle in and inside-outs it. He’s got a lot of power. You look at his offensive numbers in his minor league career and there’s a reason he’s in the big leagues right now.”
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While Khris Davis provided an insurance run with an eighth-inning RBI single, Pinder’s shot proved to be all the support Andrew Triggs needed in the matinee.
Triggs afternoon began in inauspicious fashion, as he walked the bases loaded in the first, throwing 12 balls in his first 14 pitches.
“I don’t think I’ve done that in any outing that I can recall — [much less] the first three of the game,” Triggs said. “So, it was kind of bizarre … the ball was dancing on me a little bit but we were able to contain things, had some nice plays behind me. [I] found the zone a little bit more and things kind of settled in as the game went on.”
The starter escaped the first-inning jam with just one run on his ledger and didn’t allow another the rest of the way, throwing a career high 105 pitches across six innings.
“Wow. That was Houdini,” Melvin said. “I mean, it’s one guy away from getting somebody up in the first inning.”
“And then give us six innings and nothing else?” Melvin added. “I wouldn’t say I wasn’t expecting it, but it was Houdini-like, so [it] ended up being a great outing for him.”
A trio of A’s relievers — Liam Hendriks, Ryan Madson and Santiago Casilla — combined to nail down the final nine outs, as the bullpen produced 11 innings of scoreless ball in three games against the Angels.
The wins means the club won both series on the homestand — even after losing Friday’s opener — and now embarks on a six-game trip to Texas and Seattle buoyed by a sense of optimism.
“The walk-off really helped the next day because things were not going well,” Melvin said. “We win two games on the road trip. Come home. Get beat. Look lifeless [in] the first. Then there’s a walk-off and then another one and then the [2-7] road trip’s kind of in the past.”
Maxwell exits early
After taking his third foul tip off his mask since Friday night, Bruce Maxwell exited the game early for what the team called “precautionary reasons.” The catcher, who said he underwent “minor” concussion tests, will be re-evaluated on Friday.
While Melvin hesitated to call Maxwell’s injury a concussion, there’s a chance the catcher could be swapping places with Josh Phegley, who’s eligible to be activated from the 7-day concussion disabled list in advance of the weekend series in Texas.