Athletics

Matt Chapman breaks out of slump, saves A's season on one clutch swing

Matt Chapman breaks out of slump, saves A's season on one clutch swing

Wednesday night was shaping up to be a disastrous one for the A's.

Oakland had already left 11 runners on base through eight innings, going just 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The team was clearly pressing, down 2-1 in the ninth and just two outs away from losing the top wild-card spot to the Rays, who had already won their game against the Yankees.

Enter Matt Chapman.

The A's third baseman stepped to the plate with one out and Marcus Semien on second base, facing Angels closer Hansel Robles. Chapman wasted no time, demolishing the very first pitch he saw 436 feet to center field for a two-run home run, and the A's rallied for a thrilling 3-2 victory.

"Big-time players show up like that," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "That was obviously a big one for us. We weren't having trouble getting guys on base. We were just having trouble getting them in the last couple of days. Sometimes you start to press a little bit as a group, and then a lot of times, one swing of the bat ends up loosening everybody up, and certainly that was a key hit."

It was an especially important homer for Chapman, who had been mired in a 3-for-28 slump entering the game. He told reporters he was just trying to keep the rally alive for Matt Olson, who was waiting on deck.

"I was just trying to honestly get Oly to the plate with an opportunity to win the game," Chapman said. "I mean, he's been swinging the bat a little better than me. ... I was like, 'Hey, just stay short. Don't try to do too much right now. We just need a hit or a walk, get on base and just keep the line moving.' So I was just trying to do my part and not try to do too much and was luckily able to get a good pitch and do a little more than I expected."

With that one swing of the bat, Chapman turned a potential three-game losing streak into a dramatic, morale-boosting victory. Upon returning to the dugout, he was mobbed by his teammates, who could finally release their built-up tension in a wild celebration.

"It feels great," Chapman said. "I obviously haven't been playing as well as I'd like to and playing to my capabilities, in my opinion. But that doesn't matter. I think that's the great thing about our team. No matter how guys are feeling -- good or bad -- it's about winning baseball games. Everybody's going to do whatever it takes to win and that's all we care about. So to get that win and keep the lead in the wild card, everybody was pretty excited. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum into these last four games."

With the win, the A's remain half a game ahead of the Rays for the top wild-card spot and move two games ahead of the Indians for the second spot. Oakland's magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to three with four games remaining in Seattle.

"We do follow (the scoreboard), but we've got to take care of our own business," Chapman said. "I think we learned that a little bit yesterday. We've just got to control what we can control. To be able to have four games left and a half-game lead, we've got to just keep taking care of our business and good things will happen."

[RELATED: A's outfield takes hit, as Canha strains groin vs. Angels]

Added Melvin: "It's tough not to notice, but our objective is to take care of ourselves and just try to win our games."

On Wednesday night, the A's did just that. Now they have to do it four more times.

Liam Hendriks, A's thank medical field during coronavirus pandemic

Liam Hendriks, A's thank medical field during coronavirus pandemic

During this unprecedented time amid the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), it’s given us an opportunity to give thanks to those who so selflessly have been working hard to ensure the rest of us stay safe. 

For A’s closer Liam Hendriks, he wanted to give a special shoutout to those in the medical field working hard:

 “We, as an Oakland Athletics organization, want to say, ‘Thank you,’ for everything you’re doing, please stay safe,” he said via the A’s Instagram account.

Hendriks personally has felt the devastation the coronavirus has brought upon us as a society. He revealed recently that a friend of his, Conrad Buchanan, died due to COVID-19. Hendriks announced the news on Instagram last week and urged the world to stay home, “not only for your health, but for the sake of others as well.”

[RELATED: What Canha misses most during MLB hiatus]

Hendriks also wrote that Buchanan is survived by his wife and daughter.

MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

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MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

We won't have live Oakland A’s baseball for a while. For now, we have to improvise.

One of the ways the league is making sure everyone stays home is by implementing a way to watch MLB The Show 20 in a tournament put on by the players themselves.

In the game, you’re able to create essentially your own legacy in Major League Baseball.

Just like most games based on professional sports, each individual is given an overall rating.

Here are how some of the A’s players fared, out of a possible best score of 100:

3B Matt Chapman: 92
Closer Liam Hendriks: 88
1B Matt Olson: 86
SS Marcus Semien: 85
CF Ramón Laureano: 83
RP Joakim Soria: 83
SP Sean Manaea: 81
RP Yusmeiro Petit: 81
RP J.B. Wendelken: 78
P Frankie Montas: 76

You can see the rest of the A’s numbers, as well as other players across the league, in this video:

For Matt Chapman, he’s unsurprisingly one of the best third basemen in the game according to The Show’s player ratings -- No. 4 in that category to be specific. Right behind Houston Astros star Alex Bregman, who was rated a 95. 

Nolan Arenado leads the hot corner with a 99 overall rating. Chappy earlier this year told NBC Sports California where he believed he ranked compared to Arenado, Bregman and even Anthony Rendon. Rendon was signed by the Angels in the offseason, which only beefed up the AL West at that position.

Last season, Chappy put up solid numbers earning his first All-Star selection and his second, and consecutive Gold and Platinum Glove Awards. He hit 36 home runs and slashed .249/.342/.506 with 91 RBI.

For Liam Hendriks, who was rated the second-highest on the team, he was the third-highest among closers, with Kirby Yates leading the category.

Last season, Hendriks was sensational with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP in 85 innings. He also earned the first All-Star selection of his career.

[RELATED: Mike Fiers details mentality behind no-hitters]

Marcus Semien also earned high marks with his 85 rating. He was tied with the likes of Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Correa and Trea Turner. Not a bad group to be associated with.

The ratings at shortstop had a lot to do with fielding abilities. Despite the shift in power we get to see among middle infielders, the glove was a highlight here -- but the bats were all but ignored. Semien has improved drastically over the last couple of seasons with both his glove and offensive game. He was appreciated here.

Angels star Mike Trout also received a 99 rating, which goes to show who the rest of the league has to measure up to.