ANAHEIM — Khris Davis believes his defense in left field might get overlooked.
For that he can blame his offense.
The A’s left fielder made a pretty diving catch in left-center Friday night, but it was his three-run homer that ultimately made the difference in a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Aware that Angels pitchers had been trying to elevate fastballs, Davis was looking for a heater on an 0-2 pitch in the eighth from Fernando Salas and he got one about chest-high.
He drilled a liner that seemed destined for the left-center gap. The ball instead cleared the wall, and his team-leading 18th homer snapped a 4-4 tie.
“I was expecting it to go off the wall, but man, the thing just got out in a hurry,” said Stephen Vogt, who was running at third. “He’s a strong, strong, strong human being. It’s a lot of fun to watch him hit the ball a long ways.”
Davis described the sequence in his own uniquely entertaining way.
“In that situation I just had enough ‘sav’ to know they were trying to climb the ladder, and he didn’t climb it high enough.”
He actually seemed a bit more jazzed to talk about his diving catch that robbed Jett Bandy in the sixth. He covered a lot of ground to get to the ball, then extended full out for a diving catch that likely prevented extra bases for Bandy in a tie game.
Davis arrived to the A’s in the offseason with the reputation of having a weak throwing arm, and opposing runners at times have taken advantage of that. But both Vogt and manager Bob Melvin talked up Davis’ all-around skills as an outfielder. Davis also defended his own glove work.
“It’s easy for people to look at my arm and be like, ‘Oh, he can’t play defense,’” he said. “But where I lack with my arm, I make up somewhere else.”
Davis' heroics were needed on a night the A’s committed three errors and got just 3 2/3 innings from starter Eric Surkamp. Fernando Rodriguez, Ryan Dull, John Axford and Ryan Madson covered the final 5 1/3 innings in relief. Rodriguez gave up Mike Trout’s RBI single on his first batter in the fourth, but right fielder Max Muncy came up with a great throw on the play to nail Johnny Giavotella at third, Muncy’s first outfield assist in the majors.
Melvin pointed to that play as a critical one because it kept Albert Pujols from batting with runners aboard and the Angels already up 4-2. But in the end, it was Davis’ power at the plate that made the difference. His 18 homers are tied for sixth in the American League, his 49 RBI tied for eighth. At this rate, he’s got a shot at a 40-homer season.
In short, he’s given the A’s all they could have hoped for and then some in production since coming over in an offseason trade from Milwaukee.
“He does his damage in a hurry,” Melvin said. “He may go a few games without getting any hits, then all of sudden he knocks in three runs with one swing of the bat.” Davis, who was born in nearby Lakewood and attended Cal State Fullerton, had about 50 family members in attendance Friday.
“I feel like I don’t play good in front of my family,” Davis said, “but they’ve supported me my whole life.”