Athletics

Healy's first two-homer game powers A's in rout of Nationals

Healy's first two-homer game powers A's in rout of Nationals

OAKLAND — In this season of adjustments for Ryon Healy, the proof of how he’s handling everything is found in the numbers he’s piling up.

No one filled up the box score Saturday quite like Healy, who went 4-for-4 and enjoyed his first career two-homer game as Oakland pounded the Washington Nationals 10-4 before a crowd of 23,921 at the Coliseum.

So much of the talk has centered on Yonder Alonso’s breakout year at the plate, Khris Davis’ continued ascension among the game’s power-hitting elite, and the injuries and defensive problems that have contributed to the A’s last-place standing.

When it comes to Healy, the conversation usually focuses on what position he’s playing, or the fact that he really doesn’t have a spot on the diamond to call home. He’s seen most of his time as Oakland’s primary designated hitter, and that’s been an adjustment for a young player who’s spent most of his professional career playing either of the corner infield spots.

“He’s handled it really well,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s a very emotional guy, too, which plays into the whole dynamic. He wants to play, he brings a lot of energy to whatever he’s doing. For guys like that, it’s probably a little more difficult than for guys that are more reserved. But I’ll take him any day. He’s passionate about what he does and he swings the bat really well.”

Healy hit just .228 over his first 27 games, but since has been hitting at a .327 clip (35-for-107) over his last 27. With the A’s (24-31) just having passed the one-third mark of the season, Healy is hitting .279 overall with 11 homers and 27 RBI, putting the 25-year-old on pace for a 30-plus homer season in his first full major league campaign.

He shared top billing Saturday with Jed Lowrie, who went 3-for-5 with four RBI. But Healy tied a franchise record with four extra-base hits — two homers and two doubles — and the A’s as a team cracked double digits in runs for the first time all season.

After connecting for his first homer, a two-run shot to right-center off Nationals starter and East Bay product Joe Ross, Healy said he had some fun on the bench with teammate Trevor Plouffe.

“I said to Plouffe, ‘I’ve never had a two-homer game in pro ball,’” Healy said. “He goes, 'Well, today's a pretty good day to do so.’”

Healy hit a solo shot that hit above the camera well in center in the seventh, making it back-to-back shots with Yonder Alonso, who hit his 16th homer right before him.

With Alonso enjoying his own breakout season and commanding the majority of starts at first base, and the A’s currently committed to Plouffe at third, Healy has been relegated to DH, though he spelled Plouffe at third Saturday. Plouffe is signed only through this season as is Alonso, who’s already a rumored trade candidate. Healy could slide into one of their spots should the A’s part with either, though Oakland has other highly regarded corner infielders at Triple-A, notably third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson.

When asked if he’d prefer to settle at one spot, Healy said all the right things.

“I think time will tell,” he replied. “I'm happy where I'm at right now, being in the big leagues. I'm just going to continue working as hard as I can to potentially earn a role like that one day.”

It’s not often that an Alonso home run rates as a secondary note. He swung away on a 3-0 count in the seventh and drove an opposite-field shot to left-center off Nats reliever Jacob Turner. He and Davis are tied for second in the American League with 16 homers.

Alonso ranked second behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera at first base in the first round of All-Star fan voting. Does Melvin think Alonso belongs in the Midsummer Classic?

“I do,” the manager confirmed. “It’s usually a tough position to crack for the All-Star Game, as there’s many good hitters at that position. But he’s a plus defender on top of it and he continues to hit homers, and big homers. I’m probably a little biased, but yeah, I would say that’s the guy.”

 

A's notes: Mark Canha hits career-high 17th homer in win vs. Twins

A's notes: Mark Canha hits career-high 17th homer in win vs. Twins

OAKLAND — Mark Canha blasted a pinch-hit two-run home run to tie the game in the sixth inning Friday night. It was his 17th homer of the season, a new career high.

“That's kind of cool,” Canha said after the A's walked off the Twins in the 10th inning. “To know that you don't have a ceiling of 16, it's just kind of cool for me. I love home runs. My favorite part about the game is hitting home runs. Hopefully I can get to 20. That's kind of been a goal for me the past couple months.”

“[He's meant] a lot,” added manager Bob Melvin. “He plays multiple positions, knows how to come off the bench. ... He's ready for every situation. He's a lefty killer. ... He's a real weapon for us later on in the game and has been really for a few years now.”

Canha has hit 13 of his 17 home runs against left-handed pitchers, second most in the American League behind the Rangers' Joey Gallo.

--- The A’s scored seven or more runs in their eighth straight home game, setting a record for the longest streak in franchise history.

--- Blake Treinen leads MLB pitchers with a 0.83 ERA. He has allowed seven earned runs the entire season. Treinen has not allowed a hit in his last 13 1/3 innings, the second-longest streak in Oakland history.

--- Liam Hendriks has thrown seven straight scoreless first innings as an “opener.” He lowered his ERA to 2.35 in his seven starts this season.

--- Matt Chapman set an Oakland record with his league-leading 25th double since the All-Star break. Chapman also leads the majors with 41 extra-base hits since the Midsummer Classic.

--- Khris Davis set a career high with his 44th and 45th home runs of the season, fourth most in Oakland history and sixth most in A's history. This was his 22nd career multi-homer game, and his seventh this season.

--- Oakland starting pitchers have a streak of 35 consecutive games of seven innings or fewer. A's starters have pitched 798 innings this season. The fewest in a non-strike season in A's history is 858 2/3 in 1997.

--- The A’s have won eight of their last nine games against the Twins, and 17 of their last 20 at the Coliseum.

--- Oakland improved to 30-13 (.698 winning percentage) in one-run games, which is the best record in MLB. The A's record for winning percentage in one-run games is .698 (30-13) in 1928.

--- The A's are 38-19 since the All-Star break, which is the best record in the majors.

A's slugger Khris Davis stakes AL MVP claim with two homers vs. Twins

A's slugger Khris Davis stakes AL MVP claim with two homers vs. Twins

OAKLAND — Khris Davis probably isn't going to win the AL MVP award. Heck, he might not even finish in the top five. But after Friday night's performance, it became even more clear that there is no one in baseball more valuable to their team than the A's designated hitter.

Davis hit two more home runs, including a walk-off blast in the 10th inning, which sent the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum into a frenzy, followed immediately by boisterous chants of “MVP.”

“I was one of those (chanting),” A's manager Bob Melvin joked. “You look at his numbers and what he's meant to this team, he definitely needs to be in the conversation.”

“What do you say?" asked outfielder Mark Canha. "I'm at a loss for words. He does things that just leave you speechless. It's crazy.”

“I can't explain (the feeling),” Davis said. “There's not a better feeling in the world.”

Davis set a new career high with his 44th and 45th home runs of the season, four more than anyone else in MLB. His 119 RBI are also a career high and rank second in baseball, five behind Boston's J.D. Martinez.

“It's one-of-a-kind power,” Melvin marveled. “He's so strong. He uses his lower half well, but sometimes he loses his lower half and just kind of flicks it, and that means his hands and forearms are pretty strong. He keeps himself back just enough to drive it.”

“I thought it was a double, just the ball off my bat initially,” Davis said of his game-winning home run. “I was thinking, 'Get on second.' And then it just kept carrying, which is even better.”

Davis will likely finish behind Martinez and Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Cleveland's Jose Ramirez, Houston's Alex Bregman, and Mike Trout of the Angels in the MVP voting. They are all admittedly terrific players, but are any of them truly as valuable to their team as Davis is to the A's?

Take Davis out of Oakland's lineup and it's a completely different team. Sure, Oakland has other good hitters. But Davis affects the way opposing pitchers approach the entire lineup. He is a constant in the back of their mind, lurking just beneath the surface.

“He's obviously awesome for us on the field,” Canha said. “He's an awesome teammate. We love the heck out of him.”

“It's pretty dramatic how he started the game and ended the game,” Melvin added. “He's as good a power hitter as anybody in the game.”

Davis' 45 home runs are already the fourth most in Oakland single-season history. He is trying to become the first A's player to lead MLB in homers since Mark McGwire in 1996.

“It would be a nice achievement,” Davis acknowledged. “But first and foremost, I want to get deep in the playoffs. That means a lot more.”