OAKLAND – The A’s showed off the kind of firepower Sunday that team officials must have daydreamed about back in spring training.
Playing their predominantly right-handed hitting lineup, the A’s bashed out five home runs on a warm afternoon at the Coliseum and steamrolled the Minnesota Twins 14-1 to capture their first series coming out of the All-Star break.
Three of those homers came off lefty Tommy Milone, who was riding a hot streak until running into his old team for the first time Sunday afternoon. Milone didn’t make it out of the third inning, as Josh Phegley and Billy Butler connected for two-run homers off him and Jake Smolinski hit a solo shot. Smolinski, who delivered a game-tying single in Saturday night’s win, jacked a three-run homer in the eighth for his first career multi-homer game.
Josh Reddick hit his third career grand slam in the fifth, and the A’s scored their most runs since tallying a season-high 16 against San Diego back on June 17.
It was the A’s at their very best offensively, but a display rarely seen in 2015. They entered Sunday with a major league-worst 5-17 mark against lefties. They had also connected for just 17 homers against southpaws, second-lowest among AL teams coming in.
Getting power from Butler and Phegley, two players acquired in the offseason with hopes they’d punish lefties, was a welcome sight. And anything Smolinski contributes is gravy. He was claimed off waivers June 21 from Texas precisely for his ability to hit left-handers.
Starting pitching report:
Offense ruled the day, but Jesse Chavez’s crisp outing had to be very encouraging for manager Bob Melvin. The right-hander had struggled recently, posting a 5.27 ERA over his previous seven starts. Coming off a nine-day layoff because of the All-Star break, Chavez (5-9) looked like a rejuvenated pitcher. He struck out nine over six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk.
Edward Mujica, Eric O’Flaherty and Evan Scribner finished out the final three innings. Shane Robinson’s RBI triple in the ninth off Scribner, on a ball that center fielder Billy Burns appeared to lose in the sun, spoiled the shutout bid.
At the plate:
Milone (5-2), who pitched for the A’s from 2012-14, wasn’t treated kindly by his old teammates. He was tagged for seven runs (five earned) over 2 2/3 innings. Milone had given up one or fewer runs in each of his previous three starts, and he had gone five consecutive starts without allowing a single homer until the A’s took him deep three times.
Butler’s recent surge is a particularly good sign for the A’s. He homered for the second game in a row, both times to center, and now has four in his past 15 games. Phegley drove in three runs.
In the field:
Smolinski got it done in the field too, making a diving catch in left field to end the top of the first.
A crowd of 20,286 was on hand.
Josh Donaldson makes his return to Oakland when the Blue Jays visit for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Kendall Graveman (6-5, 3.38) and Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.34) take the mound in the 7:05 p.m. opener. Wednesday – Sonny Gray (10-4, 2.29) vs. Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.50), 7:05 p.m. Thursday – Scott Kazmir (5-5, 2.38) vs. Drew Hutchinson (9-2, 5.19), 12:35 p.m. All three games will air on CSN California.