OAKLAND — The hits came from up and down the A’s lineup, the momentum seemingly transferring from one batter to the next.
It was surprising enough to see the A’s put a second consecutive shellacking on the Houston Astros during Saturday’s doubleheader nightcap. That they did it with seven rookies in the lineup made it all the more impressive.
Much has been made of the A’s young core of talent that’s now logging time on the big league roster. But the 11-4 pounding of the Astros in Saturday’s second game was the most tangible evidence yet of what this young group might be capable of moving forward.
“That was the plan (for the nightcap). We were gonna let the youngsters play, and we were gonna let them go too,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We weren’t gonna do a whole lot as far as pinch hitting. … We wanted to give them a game where they were all kind of together. They showed up and played really well, especially late in the game.”
Chad Pinder hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh, then added a monster opposite-field three-run shot in the eighth, when the A’s rallied for six runs all with two outs. Matt Olson connected on a 446-foot two-run shot earlier in the game. And Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect who largely has watched from afar as several of his Triple-A teammates have enjoyed success in the majors, tripled in the seventh to start the go-ahead rally and added a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Boog Powell hit leadoff in the second game and responded with two hits and three RBI, offsetting a dropped fly ball that went for an error. And, not to be overlooked, 24-year-old right-hander Daniel Mengden turned in six solid innings in his first major league start since June 3.
The A’s outscored Houston 22-5 in sweeping Saturday’s twin bill, giving the A’s their first doubleheader sweep since 1998 and scoring their most runs in a doubleheader since 1976.
“It’s really big for the confidence for our team going forward,” Pinder said. “(The Astros) are an incredible baseball team, as you guys have seen all year. We played some good baseball today and I think that’s something to build off of.”
The smile on Barreto’s face after the game showed how much it meant for him to contribute to such a victory. He was 0-for-7 over five games played, just two starts, since being recalled Sept. 1. He spelled Marcus Semien at shortstop for Saturday’s nightcap, and after going down swinging in his first two at-bats, he lined a shot down the right field line in the seventh and flashed his speed in motoring all the way to third. That kickstarted a two-run rally as Oakland overcame a 4-3 deficit.
“He’s an electric player. He’s gonna be an incredible player for a long time, and one of the best people you could play with too,” Pinder said. “… He should know that every single person in this clubhouse has the utmost confidence in him, because he is a huge piece of the puzzle moving forward.”
Barreto was happy to contribute to a victory that wrapped up a crowd-pleasing day at the Coliseum, and he was happy to do so with a group that he’s played so many games with in the minors in recent seasons.
“We’ve been playing together two years,” Barreto said through interpreter Juan Durado. “It’s great to be around them and get good results and get wins.”