OAKLAND — As his third-inning blooper sunk toward shallow right field, Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman seemed unsure of how the ball might bounce off the twice-painted Oakland Raiders yard marker on the grass. He slowed as he approached first base.
After Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger misplayed the flare, Chapman accelerated before belly-flopping into second base ahead of a tag attempt. While he scuffed his left hand and tore his batting glove, the second of Chapman’s three doubles Monday enabled him to score on an ensuing Jed Lowrie knock.
“I was trying to run faster than I think I’m capable,” Chapman said. “It all happened so fast, I didn’t even realize until I saw the video board replay. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I just looked like that.’”
Chapman demonstrated his full range of talents in Oakland’s 7-6 victory over the Mariners, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs to complement his typically stunning defense. The 25-year-old infielder has now reached base in 27 consecutive games and is a leading Gold Glove candidate.
“He’s on some kind of streak right now,” closer Blake Treinen said.
Treinen made an unexpected appearance in the win, entering the game after reliever Jeurys Familia walked the bases loaded to start the ninth inning. Treinen allowed all three inherited runners to score but struck out the side to preserve the save.
That put Oakland 2 1/2 games ahead of Seattle for the second AL Wild Card and just two games behind the Astros in the AL West.
Second baseman Lowrie posted his second straight game with two extra-base hits, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBIs. It perhaps said something that he was not considered the night’s biggest star.
In addition to his doubles in the first, third and sixth, Chapman dove to stop a sharp fourth-inning ground ball before gunning down speedster Jean Segura with a strong throw across the diamond. He’s made a habit of making those types of plays from the hot corner this season.
“As good as [Chapman] is right now, he has the ability to get a lot better,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s gonna end up being one of those … top-flight guys you talk about in the [MVP] conversation every year.”
Starter Sean Manaea added: “Unbelievable. I don’t even know what I was saying [after the defensive play]. I was just screaming.”
Manaea’s two-run, 7 2/3-inning outing was a stark improvement upon his appearance last week against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he couldn’t complete the third frame.
When Manaea left the game with two outs in the eighth, he made sure to appreciate the Coliseum’s warm ovation. This is also his first major league playoff chase.
“You can definitely feel it,” Manaea said. “When you get the crowd going like that, having a good start and seeing the crowd getting into it, I was really taking my time and just appreciating everything. It was a really cool moment.”
On June 15, Oakland held a 34-36 record and seemed headed for a mediocre rebuilding season. The team trailed the Mariners by 11 games and the Astros by 11 1/2 games. The majority of its lineup had never been on a winning team.
But like Chapman speeding around the bases Monday, the A’s have been on an out-of-control run since then, accelerating at a faster pace than perhaps even they initially believed themselves capable.