OAKLAND — Danny Valencia can appreciate the zone that Khris Davis is in right now.
More impressively, he can relate to it.
Davis has homered nine times in his past 14 games, including a mammoth solo shot in the A’s 8-1 victory over Texas on Wednesday. He hit three homers in Tuesday night’s win, just two days after Valencia accomplished the same feat in a win at Tampa Bay.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” Valencia said of Davis’ hot streak. “People don’t realize how hard it is, and right now he’s making it look really easy. We all know how hard this game is, and for him to do what he’s doing, it’s pretty special. And it’s something you can’t take for granted because you don’t see it too often.”
Davis is the headliner right now in the power department, but the A’s homer binge as a team has been crucial as the A’s have won five of their past six games. They’ve connected for 14 home runs total over that span, which has moved them into a tie for sixth in the American League in overall homers with 47.
It seems an obvious point but one worth stressing: The ability to produce runs, at times multiple runs, with one swing of the bat takes pressure off the offense as a whole. Valencia, the A’s cleanup man, has hit all six of his homers in the past six games. Davis, who hit fifth Wednesday, has 12 homers overall, which were tied for the AL lead heading into Wednesday night.
“It seems like every time he puts the barrel on it, it leaves the ballpark,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
A stretch of the A’s facing four left-handed starters in their past four games prompted Melvin to pencil in the right-handed hitting Billy Butler for four starts in a row. Butler served as designated hitter on Sunday against the Rays but started at first base in all three wins against Texas to begin this homestand. His combined numbers in those four games were modest — 3-for-11 with one RBI. But Butler made a number of nice plays defensively, with clean picks of some difficult grounders and scooping a throw in the dirt Monday.
“It’s really good to get out there,” said Butler, who started just 12 of the A’s first 35 games. “It’s nothing unexpected for me defensively out there. I know I can play first, there just has not been a lot of opportunities.”
The New York Yankees arrive Thursday for a four-game series, and they’ll start lefty CC Sabathia on Friday, so Butler figures to be in the lineup at least once in that series.