OAKLAND — This season marks the first for Oakland A’s outfielder Mark Canha and his wife Marci as parents. He already banked some husband points with his home run on Mother’s Day at Yankee Stadium, but his game on Father’s Day — with his wife and their five-month-old daughter making a video board appearance — was a bigger deal for the A’s.
Having won just 11 games against American League West opponents, and having gone from an early 2-0 lead to playing catch-up, Oakland got an all-around gem from Canha.
The 29-year old clocked a two-run homer in the second, tied the game with a bloop single in the ninth and made a possibly game-saving full-gallop snare in left center field in the 10th. To add to that, he worked a one-out walk to load the bases in the 11th, setting up catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s sixth career walk-off hit for a 6-5 series-clinching win over the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
Canha hit .183 over the month of May, but after his 2-for-4 day on Sunday, he’s hitting .289 in June, with one home run, three doubles and four RBIs.
“He went through a little tough stretch, and has put together some really good at-bats here recently,” said manager Bob Melvin. “I think the homer helped him out, too, earlier in the game.”
After Canha’s second-inning home run — a 390-footer on a changeup — the A’s managed just two more hits against left-handed starter Andrew Heaney, who struck out eight in eight innings, giving his offense some room to work.
With one out in the third, Los Angeles outfielder Chris Young hit his second homer in as many days — a 406-foot blast to left center on an 0-1 Daniel Mengden slider. After a pair of two-out walks, Mengden got ahead of Albert Pujols 1-2, as the Angels DH waved at a fastball down. On the next pitch, Pujols sent a sinking liner to center. Canha dove forward and appeared to snag it, but as he rolled through the landing, the ball was left behind. The single brought home the game-tying run in Mike Trout.
The Angels took the lead on a pair in the sixth, starting with a Pujols solo homer to left off a 92-mph Mengden fastball at the knees. Andrelton Simmons walked with one out, took second on a Luis Valbuena single and came around to score on a Mengden wild pitch to Martin Maldonado.
Yusmeiro Petit — coming on for his second outing in as many days after not pitching in seven — ended the frame with a groundout by Young. Petit gave up a leadoff double to Kinsler in the seventh, and after an intentional walk to Trout, surrendered an inside-out flare single to right to Justin Upton, bringing Kinsler in to score.
Oakland crept back with a run in the seventh on a Jed Lowrie leadoff double and a sacrifice fly by Matt Olson.
Against lock-down closer Blake Parker, shortstop Marcus Semien — whose father, grandfather and wife Tarrah were in the stands, along with both his sons — hit a leadoff home run in the ninth to cut the lead to one.
“This is someone who likes to get to his splitter,” Semien said. “In the past, when I’ve faced him, I was a little bit more patient, and that time, I was aggressive.”
In his breakdown of the game, Melvin — a former Cal catcher — made sure to note that both of the A’s homers came from two former Golden Bear teammates. Semien and Canha played together in Berkeley in 2009.
Parker — who strikes out 10.4 men and walks just over three per nine innings — then walked Chad Pinder on four pitches, and issued Davis a free pass after getting ahead 1-2.
Jose Alvarez came on to strike out Matt Olson, but then Canha came up against reliever Cam Bedrosian and dunked a bloop single to right, plating pinch runner Dustin Fowler to tie things up at 5-5.
“My approach was to be relaxed and see the ball big and I know he likes to mix it up a lot,” Canha said. “He likes to throw that slider, so I just told myself to stay relaxed, stay back and don’t try and do too much, and it worked out.”
With one out in the top of the 10th, and Canha having just moved from center to left, he sprinted after a 1-2 drive to left center by Simmons, spearing the ball while crashing into the wall and saving an extra-base hit.
“As an outfielder, I was like, I’ve got to go,” Canha said. “There’s nothing much to read there, just run as hard as you can, and I told myself I was going to catch that ball or break my neck trying. Just going balls-to-the-wall after it.”
“That might be the best play we’ve seen him make, and he’s made a lot of good plays this year,” Melvin said. ‘That looked like a double for sure.”
After Angels reliever Eduardo Paredes gave up a parachute single to Jed Lowrie to lead off the bottom of the 11th, he hit Davis in the arm. After a six-pitch fly-out by Matt Olson, Canha took a 3-1 walk to load the bases with one out for Lucroy.
“You tend to get a little greedy in those at-bats,” Melvin said. “That’s a lot of times, when you don’t have success, so he was looking for one pitch in one zone and didn’t get it, ended up taking the walk, and passed the baton to Luc.”
Facing an 1-0 count from Paredes and a five-man infield, Lucroy pounded a ball off the right center field wall for his sixth career game-winning hit, sending the A’s on the road to San Diego with a win. Oakland is now 12-25 against divisional opponents after taking two of three from the Angels.