OAKLAND — A’s rookie Chad Pinder has quickly become one of manager Bob Melvin’s favorites for his versatility in the field, but the utility man has also been impressive at the plate.
Not to be outdone by teammate Khris Davis from the night before, Pinder came up with his own multi-homer game as he belted two home runs in Saturday’s 8-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
What made the feat even more impressive was the pitcher it came against.
Cole Hamels had allowed only three home runs in his last 41 innings coming in. Perhaps he was due as Pinder took him deep twice with solo shots in the first and third. Pinder’s second home run tied it at 2-2 and then the A’s offense opened floodgates soon after.
After adding a run in the fourth, the A’s tagged Hamels for three runs in the fifth. Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie had doubles, sandwiched around a Pinder walk, to put Hamels on the ropes. With two runs already scored in the inning, Ryon Healy delivered the knockout blow with a single that drove home Lowrie and chased Hamels.
Hamels equaled his shortest outing of the season, allowing six runs on nine hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
Sean Manaea had entered the day with an abysmal 11.37 ERA through four starts in August. Melvin had hoped Manaea’s previous start, in which he allowed just three runs in six innings at Houston, would be the start of an upswing to finish the season strong.
“We know he’s a very talented guy and we expect him to pitch toward the top of our rotation in coming years,” Melvin said before the game. “He’s going through a little bit of a struggle right now and you always look to see how he gets out of it and how he looks on the other side of it.”
It was not pretty, but Manaea gutted his way through five innings while only allowing two runs and perhaps earned some confidence along the way.
Facing a bases-loaded situation while holding a slim 3-2 lead with two outs in the fifth, Manaea fell behind 2-0 to slugger Mike Napoli. Normally a situation where Manaea had imploded in earlier this month, Manaea battled to get to a full count and managed to strike out Napoli on a ball in the dirt to keep the lead intact.
Lowrie added on to his double-heavy season by hitting two more doubles to tie him for the major league lead with 40. His second of the day was a two-run double off the left field wall that drove home both Semien and Matt Joyce.
— Mark Canha got the start in center field on Saturday. Although Canha has been rimarily a corner outfielder for most of his career, the departure of Rajai Davis means the San Jose native will get a shot to play regularly in center against left-handed pitchers. A’s manager Bob Melvin expects Chad Pinder to get some time in center as well.
“The reads are probably a little easier in center field, but now you’re dealing with both gaps. You’re dealing with two different guys as opposed to one and you’re expected to be the quarterback,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Both these guys don’t a lot of experience with it, but with the position we’re in right now, they’re gonna get some.”
Injuries have kept Canha, 26, from getting a chance to truly develop at the major league level, but Melvin still believes he can play every day at the highest level.
“He’s been a very productive guy for us,” Melvin said. “We still look at him as a very good major league player, he just got set back a little with the injuries.”
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