Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND -- In the more than 100-year history of the A's franchise, no player had ever hit a grand slam in his first game with the team. That changed Tuesday night, courtesy of catcher Chris Herrmann.

After missing the first 85 games of the season with a knee injury, Herrmann introduced himself to the Coliseum in style, launching a 407-foot grand slam to help the A's beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-6.

"It felt amazing," Herrmann said. "It's been a grind. I can't thank my family enough for all the support that I've had over the past three months. There were times where I didn't even think I was going to be able to play this year. My teammates, coaching staff, training staff, everybody was just behind (me) the whole time.

"To come out here and hit a grand slam on my first day with the team was awesome. It was just such a great feeling."

Herrmann's first at-bat of the night didn't go quite as well. With two on and two out in the second inning, he battled Twins starter Jake Odorizzi to a 3-2 count before chasing a splitter for strike three to end the inning.

"He has a great split," Herrmann said. "He throws it a lot to lefties and righties. I chased a pitch, unfortunately. I've got to have a better eye than that."

 

Herrmann got another chance in the fourth inning, stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. This time, the 31-year-old cashed in.

"Thankfully, my next at-bat, I took (the splitter)," Herrmann said. "He came back with a fastball kind of middle-in and I tried not to do too much. I just wanted to put the ball in play. I didn't want to go up there and strike out again in a big situation."

And strike out he did not.

Instead, Herrmann crushed a 1-1 fastball over the center-field wall to vault the A's ahead, 6-3, a lead they would never relinquish.

"I knew I hit it good, but just from the history of this ballpark, you never know," he said. "On any given night, you can square a ball up and it's a can of corn in the outfield. Thankfully, it played out in my favor tonight. It was a special moment."

Herrmann finished the game 1-for-3 with the grand slam and a walk. Just as important, he caught all nine innings on his surgically-repaired knee and got to celebrate a victory with his teammates.

"When you hit a home run, period, let alone a grand slam, it makes you feel like you belong pretty quickly with the team. (It was) nice to get him off to a good start," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He catches a win, draws a walk -- a lot of things that we've kind of profiled him to do. He gets on base and he can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

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Herrmann enjoyed another thrill after hitting his grand slam when part of the Coliseum crowd chanted his name. Despite everything he had been through this season, that moment made it all worthwhile.

"That was a great feeling for all the fans to welcome me like that after my grand slam," Herrmann smiled. "I know we don't have a ton of fans here, but the ones who do come are loyal and they care about baseball. ... I'm just blessed to be here."