OAKLAND — The day after the Oakland A’s hosted the Chicago White Sox — and 46,028 fans — for the first free game in MLB history, manager Bob Melvin was all smiles.
And that was before Matt Olson delivered a 14th-inning walk-off single to seal the club’s sweep of the White Sox. With the 12-11win, which ran five hours and 48 minutes — the third-longest contest in Oakland history — the A’s climb to within a game of .500 (9-10).
As Melvin prepared for Wednesday’s finale, which would feature yet another prominent showing for Jed Lowrie and yet another Mark Canha home run, the manager shared a poignant anecdote.
Before Tuesday night’s game, Melvin had wandered down the left-field line to talk with fans who’d packed into the Coliseum.
“There’s some people that saw their first major league game yesterday,” Melvin said. “And that really warms your heart that the people finally got to attend a game like this. [They] live in this area. The A’s have been around for a while and to know that it’s their first major league game, that makes you feel really good.”
When a reported jokingly asked if bigger crowds help clubs play better, Melvin quipped: “One for one. One-thousand [percent success].
For the second time in as many days, the A’s put up double figures in Wednesday’s matinee against the White Sox. Canha, the club’s surprise center fielder, continues to secure an improbable foothold in in the middle of the outfield. He’s started four games in a row at that spot and now has three home runs and carries a .333 average since the A’s summoned him Triple-A on April 8.
“He’s the masked man out there,” Melvin joked of Canha who’s been wearing a ski-style mask since enjoying a big night earlier on the homestand.“I didn’t expect to have him in center field.”
Canha was originally stuck behind Jake Smolinski, Boog Powell and Dustin Fowler on the depth chart in the spring. Trayce Thompson, designated for assignment on Tuesday, was also briefly in the equation.
“To think he’d be starting this early in center field this early in the season was a stretch,” Melvin said. “But he has played some center field for us and he’s a hard working guy,” Melvin continued. “And when he’s swinging the bat, you’ve got to find a way to get him in the lineup.”
Lowrie is swinging a bat that not only demands a spot in the lineup but is also one of the most productive in baseball. The second baseman hooked his sixth home run just inside the left-field foul pole in the eighth, briefly handing the A’s a 11-10 advantage and giving Lowrie a share of the American League lead in homers. Lowrie is also pacing the AL in RBI (21) and hits (28).
“We saw it all last year,” Melvin said of Lowrie’s strong start to 2018. “He’s picked up right where he left off. He’s always gotten off to good starts. I think this year maybe even more so. He’s leading the league in a few categories. And I think with the off days it lends to him being able to play a little bit more.” Bob MelvinChicago White SoxJed LowrieMark CanhaMLBOakland A's