Brett Lawrie will chase pitches out of the strike zone at times and make fans want to slap their foreheads.
The payoff comes in at-bats like the one he turned in during the eighth inning Friday against Texas reliever Neftali Feliz. Lawrie fought hard, hung tough and eventually defeated Feliz in a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with him lining a 94 mile-per-hour fastball into the right field corner for a two-run double.
It was the go-ahead hit in a seven-run outburst during which the A’s erased a five-run deficit and went on to beat the Rangers 7-5 at Globe Life Park.
“It’s just one of those at-bats where you feel like he’s not going to be denied,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Indeed, Lawrie wouldn’t be denied on a night when he struck out in his first two plate appearances. And the same could be said of his team.
The A’s looked like a defeated bunch for much of the game, mustering just two hits over the first seven innings and flailing helplessly against Rangers starter Colby Lewis. But just when you’re ready to write them off on a particular night, they give you reason to put down the remote control.
The A’s have mounted furious late-game rallies each of the last two days. They came up just short Thursday afternoon against the Angels. On Friday night, they completed the comeback, and now the question is whether the victory serves as a springboard to better things as this 10-game road trip unfolds.
“We’ve been battling back all the way (this season),” Lawrie said. “We just haven’t had that finishing hammer at the end. Tonight we didn’t give up, we kept battling. It was a good game, and a grinder game. That’s the thing about our team. It’s never over until it’s over.”
The A’s batted around in their game-winning rally, each at-bat seeming to fuel the momentum of the next one. There was Mark Canha drilling a homer over the 407-foot sign in right-center to get the rally started. There was rookie Max Muncy, working an eight-pitch at-bat for a walk that loaded the bases before Josh Reddick hit a two-run single up the middle to shave Texas’ lead to 5-4.
Then Lawrie capped another long at-bat by lining a high fastball from Feliz to the opposite field for his go-ahead double.
“That at-bat, you gotta grind,” Lawrie said. “That’s what I was up there doing, fouling pitches off, fouling pitches off. Keep working him. I ended up getting a fastball out over the plate and thankfully enough, put it in play and we scored a couple runs.”
After driving in just four runs over his first 18 games, Lawrie has nine RBI over his past five games. He’s also struck out 29 times in 23 games played. The good comes with the bad.
But on Friday, Lawrie and his teammates served a lesson not to count them out of any game.
“Any time you win a game that looked like you were gonna lose, it’s gotta give you some confidence,” Melvin said, “especially with where we’ve been. So hopefully that is the case.”