OAKLAND – The box score from Monday’s blowout win might be one for Bob Melvin to clip and save.
The A’s manager has been searching all season for consistent right-handed production from his offense, particularly against left-handed pitchers. That had to make an 11-5 victory over the Angels particularly gratifying.
There was the four-RBI night from Mark Canha. Three more RBI from Danny Valencia. A bases-clearing double from Jake Smolinski.
Who could have predicted back in April that this trio of right-handed hitters would be doing such damage for the A’s? Neither Valencia nor Smolinski were even with the A’s for the first three months of the season. Canha, a Rule 5 pick with no big league experience before this season, was expected to be a bit player in the grand scheme of things. Now he’s leading all American League rookies with 54 RBI.
“We’ve got a lot of guys swinging the bat really well,” Melvin said.
It was Valencia who got things going with a two-run double in the third that put the A’s on the scoreboard. Oakland scored five total in the third and drove Angels lefty Hector Santiago from the game. But it was two innings later that Valencia played a key role in the night’s most memorable sequence, when he doubled deep to left field to drive in another run. The ball hit off the wall, Angels left fielder Shane Victorino banged against the wall going after it, and one of the pads lining the wall completely peeled off and fell to the ground, causing a 10-minute delay.
It was just the latest bizarre turn of events at the A’s decaying home ballpark. But Valencia, who joined the A’s on Aug. 3 from Toronto, is getting indoctrinated into all the wackiness that comes with baseball at the Coliseum.
“We had a malfunction out there,” Valencia said. “I wasn’t aware (of the Coliseum’s history), but as I’ve been here I’ve seen it. A lot of shenanigans out there.”
Melvin just smiled when discussing the wall incident.
“We know there’s going to be some issues here,” he said. “It’s actually sometimes a little bit of fun. (But) we didn’t want the game to get delayed. If it gets delayed too long, my starter’s in jeopardy of coming out. But we got it done in time. Some double-sided tape, or whatever they use to fix it up out there.”
Canha finished August with a .309 average, 10 doubles and 21 RBI in 25 games. The right-handed hitter has endured an odd season in that he’s hit righties much better than lefties. But his three-run shot off Jose Alvarez in the sixth inning Monday marked Canha’s first career homer off a left-hander. And his fortunes against lefties are shifting for the better, as he entered the night 14-for-42 (.333) against them since July 3.
“If you do things the right way, it doesn’t matter who you’re facing usually,” Canha said. “That’s my experience anyway. It usually works out in your favor if you have good mechanics, you’re swinging at good pitches and seeing the ball well.”
The emergence of Canha and Valencia has been two of the A’s biggest second-half bright spots. Valencia has been nursing tendinitis in his right knee, but he’s seeing regular time at third base and has emerged as an unlikely cleanup man for Melvin.
“He’s been instrumental,” Melvin said. “And really, since he’s gotten here, the offense has been a lot better.”
Reliever Evan Scribner faced just one batter in the ninth before leaving with soreness in the lat muscle underneath his right arm pit. He’s getting an MRI on Tuesday. Scribner said he tore that lat muscle in 2011 and missed three months. But he says at least initially that this doesn’t feel as severe.
His injury further thins out the A’s bullpen depth, and the Sept. 1 roster expansion is arriving just in time from that standpoint.