OAKLAND — A week ago, Seth Brown was just a 27 year-old minor leaguer.
On Tuesday night, in his Coliseum debut, he was the difference in a 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels that took the Oakland Athletics into a tie for the second American League wild card.
Brown has done nothing but rake since being called up to the big league squad on Aug. 26, going 13-for-29 with five extra-base hits, and his hot hitting continued in the series opener, going 2-for-4 with two triples.
“It was an unbelievable night,” Brown said. “Something I’ll never forget.”
The A’s improved to 79-58, tied with the Cleveland Indians for the second AL wild card and a game back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the first spot.
While Brown led the offensive effort for Oakland, Mike Fiers (13-3, 3.51 ERA) was not at his best and needed the A’s bats to pick him up in a rare below-average outing.
“He didn’t have the precise command that he usually has,” said manager Bob Melvin. “There are days that that’s going to happen. The oddity is that he’s had such a run where he’s been so good every game.”
For the first time since May 13, Fiers did not pitch into the sixth inning, a remarkable run that included 13 consecutive quality starts from May 19 to July 28.
Instead, he went five innings, allowing four runs on two walks and seven hits, of which two were homers. It was just the fifth time in 29 starts that he allowed at least four runs in five or fewer innings – the other four outings came in April or earlier.
“Just a couple mistakes that they capitalized on,” Fiers said. “Against some of the best hitters in the game, usually you don’t get them back. I paid for them but tried to battle as much as I can.”
The right-hander did battle and gave the A’s a good chance to win, leaving the game with his team holding a 5-4 lead.
The A’s fell into an early hole when AL MVP frontrunner Mike Trout an 87 mph fastball in the heart of the zone over the right field wall for a 437-foot solo home run. Fiers then allowed three straight singles to open the second and the Angels took a 2-0 advantage into the bottom of the frame.
Oakland came right back in its half of the inning, knotting the game at two apiece on Brown’s first RBI triple and an RBI groundout from Khris Davis.
“It’s hard to describe how much energy runs through you,” Brown said of his first home knock. “You’ve got so much adrenaline going. Everybody’s excited. The team’s excited. It’s a special moment.”
In the third, Matt Chapman blasted the A’s into a 5-2 lead with a monster three-run home run to dead center field that caromed off the “Holy Toledo” sign. The All-Star third baseman’s long ball was his 31st of the season, a mark that places him second in the AL.
The Angels scored a run each inning from the fourth to the sixth until the game was tied 5-5 after an Albert Pujols solo homer off of Blake Treinen.
The very next inning, Brown struck again, nailing his second triple off the game off the right field wall to drive in Mark Canha. It was the twelfth time in A’s history that a player hit two triples in a game – a franchise record – and the first time a player had collected two three-baggers in his home debut.
Brown then scored his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Davis and gave the A’s a lead they would not relinquish.
“I’ve always been a hard worker,” Brown said. “I’m going to continue to do that. That’s one of my biggest goals everyday: to come out and give it 100% every time.”
The joint efforts of Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks were enough to keep the Angels scoreless through the final three frames as Petit recorded the win and Hendriks, his 18th save.