OAKLAND — Ramón Laureano is still looking for a roommate.
The Oakland Athletics’ rookie center fielder has been living in a hotel about five minutes from the Oakland Coliseum since he was called up. Finding someone to live with has been the hardest adjustment he’s had to make to major league life since being called up on Aug. 3.
“I just need to room with anybody who has space,” he said. “Their families are here because their kids haven’t gone to school yet, so they might leave in the next couple of weeks or so … I have a couple [candidates].”
A soft-spoken, unassuming rookie, razzed by his teammates for not yet having big league bling, Laureano still can’t find someone to put him up despite making headlines with a walk-off in his debut and with a bonkers outfield assist nine days ago against the Angels. On Monday, he helped his case with not only his first big league homer, but his first career multi-home run game, socking two against a man old enough to be his father — Bartolo Colon –and driving in five in a 9-0 A’s win that featured four longballs.
“[He’s] really comfortable,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He’s an aggressive player, and this is a night that we made the park look small for a night that it usually plays really big. It started with him.”
Following the game, the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros, 7-4, moving the A’s into a tie for first place in the AL West.
“I embrace it. I like it. I like it,” Laureano said. “No pressure at all. It’s because I keep preparing, and I do the same thing I’ve always done, doing the same thing. I’m looking at the present, that’s it.”
A former 16th-round pick of the Houston Astros in 2014, Laureano started the year as the A’s No. 21 prospect, and hit .297 with 14 homers in his first look at Triple-A action with the Sacramento River Cats. He was called up on Aug. 3 to replace the struggling center fielder of the future, Dustin Fowler.
In his first game, Laureano, 24, threw out Jose Iglesias at third to preserve a 0-0 tie in the top of the 13th against the Detroit Tigers, and then, after going 0-for-4, provided a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the frame.
A week later in Anaheim, he made a catch on the warning track in left center and threw a 321-foot, 92-mph laser on the fly to first to double off Eric Young Jr.
On Friday, in the bottom of the ninth, Laureano pinch ran and scored on a double by Nick Martini, beating Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa’s throws to score the tying run and setting up a Matt Olson game-winning homer in the 10th.
“As soon as I got here, I just felt like the game was normal,” said Laureano. “I see the game pretty normal, to me. I’m just looking for my pitch, that one pitch you get per at-bat. That’s what I’m focusing on.”
In the second inning Monday against the Texas Rangers, Laureano got that pitch. He hit his first major league home run off of fellow Dominican Colon, who made his major league debut three months before of Laureano’s third birthday.
“I haven’t seen it that way,” Laureano said of facing Colon — winner of 247 career games — before first pitch. “I just watch his video and get ready for the game, see what he got.”
What Colon had was a veritable batting-practice fastball, as he surrendered back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning to Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien, before serving up a 2-1, 87-mph fastball to Laureano.
“I was just trying to move the runner,” Laureano said. “I was pretty surprised.”
Laureano — who stole 11 bases in 13 tries in 64 Triple-A games this season — was so juiced that he made it from home to third in nine seconds. It took him that much time to go from third to home after he nearly overtook Semien.
“I didn’t realize it,” Laureano said. “I saw the umpire at second base, and he didn’t say anything, and then I looked at the third base [umpire], and he said it was a home run, so I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, good.'”
That homer — a high drive to right — was part of a three-run inning that propelled the A’s to their 41st win in their last 55 games.
Khris Davis added to the lead with his 37th homer of the season — 438 feet on a 3-1 Colon offering — in the third. It was his 26th career homer against the Rangers in 51 career games.
“I was joking in the dugout about these warm summer nights in Oakland, and they weren’t buying it,” Melvin said.
Semien (who went 3-for-4) and Piscotty (3-for-4, double, seventh-inning solo home run) had back-to-back singles in the sixth, and Laureano slugged his second homer of the night — a three-run job to left on a 79-mph changeup — to give the A’s a 7-0 lead.
Starter Mike Fiers, meanwhile, threw 46 pitches over the first two innings. After allowing a leadoff double to Roman Mazara and a walk to Jurickson Profar in the second, though, he retired the next 18 men in order.
“I needed some innings tonight,” Melvin said. “How he turned it around, throwing as many pitches as he did, he looked like he didn’t really have command of anything. Then, he and Luc were discussing some things on the bench. Luc pointed out that he wasn’t coming straight towards him. He was a little off-line. All of the sudden, it’s a quick fix.”
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy — who threw out his big-league-best 24th runner on Monday — helped settle Fiers down. The two teamed together for three years in Milwaukee before reuniting, and Lucroy knew what buttons to push.
Fiers settled in and threw a 13-pitch third, a 12-pitch fourth, a 12-pitch fifth and a nine-pitch sixth. He exited having allowed one hit and struck out eight on 100 pitches.
In the seventh, Matt Chapman provided his nightly reminder that the Gold Glove voting is just a formality. The second-year third baseman ranged from shortstop on a shift, fielded a ball behind second base and threw to first for the second out. Matt Olson made his second key scoop of the game and kept his foot on the bag just long enough to erase Mazara.
Laureano upped his slugging percentage from .250 to .428 with his two circuit shots, and more than doubled his RBIs from three to eight. He started the game hitting .250, and now, after a 2-for-4 day, is hitting .281.
“He’s got some confidence at the big league level, and he’s just running with it,” Melvin said.
Maybe now, Laureano can find someone to take him in.