OAKLAND — Frankie Montas didn’t have a great start to his night on the mound. Thankfully, for him and the Oakland Athletics, the lineup came to the rescue.
Montas allowed a pair of runs in the first two innings, both of which the A’s offense answered, but they weren’t through. Montas settled in, and Oakland leapt out in front with an explosive, six-run fourth inning in the A’s 10-2 win over the Texas Rangers, bringing them back to the .500 mark at 13-13.
“In a lot of ways I think this was the best game of the year for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said after the win. “When he’s rolling, it’s easy for him. But, you know, in the past when he’s had some trouble, he’s had a little trouble shutting it down.”
Montas best work on the mound came in the fourth inning, when he worked out of a bases loaded jam after walking Joey Gallo to lead off the inning, then a single to Hunter Pence, followed by dropping what would’ve been an easy out at first. After the nightmare was over, he forced Logan Forsythe to ground to Matt Chapman, who threw to Josh Phegley at home to prevent the run. Phegley then got Forsythe at first. Montas escaped the potential disaster by getting Rangers catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out to second.
“To get out of the fourth like that in a day where we’re trying to get him out there as long as we can, and pitching around traffic the whole time, making pitches when he had to, I think for him this is probably as good for him as any game he’s had this year,” Melvin said.
Montas got it together on the mound after the fourth inning, and went on to throw 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
“It was huge, but I always trust my defense,” Montas said. “Chapman, you know, he’s one of the best … I feel like the way the game was tight, I was way too quick. I usually don’t work like that. But I feel like after that second inning, I felt like myself and tried to make good pitches.”
Chapman opened the scoring for the A’s with his seventh home run of the season, a first-inning rocket to left that looked to be foul, but after review, was confirmed as a home run. Kendrys Morales tied the game at two apiece in the second, scoring Stephen Piscotty on a grounder to second.
Oakland’s six-run explosion in the fourth started on a pair of singles by Piscotty and Morales. After Chad Pinder reached on a fielder’s choice, Ramon Laureano singled to center to score Piscotty from third. Josh Phegley doubled to left to score Pinder and Laureano, then Marcus Semien doubled to center to score Phegley and Robbie Grossman. Khris Davis capped the big fourth inning with a single to left, scoring Semien to make it 8-2.
The A’s saw 11 batters come to the plate in the fourth inning, the first time they batted around this season.
“One of the real strengths of our team is that one through nine we can do some damage,” Melvin said.
Oakland added a pair of runs to extend the lead to 10-2 in the fifth off of a double by Laureano, who later scored on a throwing error by Rangers second baseman Danny Santana on a grounder by Grossman.
The A’s offensive outburst sees the A’s outscoring Texas 16-4 in the first two games of the series, more than doubling their run total from their weekend sweep by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We knew we had it in there,” Melvin said. “But it’s nice to break out again, and Stephen (Piscotty) has been swinging a really hot bat here recently.”
“It’s good to see [the hitting] kind of erupting lately,” Piscotty added. “A couple of games leading up to this, I was getting some base hits on the right side and I could feel the sense that it was coming.”
Piscotty was red-hot in Tuesday night’s win, going 4-for-5 from the plate, tying a career high with four hits for the fifth time in his career. He notched his first four-hit game earlier this month on April 4 against the Red Sox. Piscotty also extended his hitting streak against Texas to 16 games, passing Geronimo Berroa, who did it in the mid-90’s, for the longest in Athletics’ history.
The A’s will look for the sweep Wednesday afternoon as Aaron Brooks takes the mound, looking for a rebound from his last start for his third win of the season.