Before the A’s beat the San Diego Padres, 8-4, on Saturday, Oakland first baseman Matt Olson was not winning. He was hitting an uncharacteristic .168 through 35 games.
But he managed to change that early and often in Game 36.
A triple, the first of his five-year MLB career, to right field, knocked in two runs to give the A’s a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
He would go 3-for-4 and spike his average to .186 by the end of the game. It was well-needed.
"It’s not a shock to see him have a good offensive game, but after a layoff, the at-bats he had last night, obviously seeing the ball well to draw three walks, and it’s huge to get off to a good start and get a lead after what was a tough night for us last night,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said following the game.
“[He was] swinging well, he looked good,” Melvin added.
Melvin noted that A’s batting practice before the game looked better than it had in previous days. A week off, or the “layoff,” Melvin described, was due to Daniel Mengden's positive coronavirus test that had the team in quarantine. That meant not being able to do any legitimate workouts or training that they otherwise were used to.
Olson appeared to be back, and his first-career triple made Melvin smile.
“I know, yeah I mean, Dusty Baker used to tell us, ‘What do you want to do, lead the league in doubles or hit two triples?’ so he hits a lot of triples,” Melvin said.
Melvin added Baker never said these sentiments specifically to him, but guys in that position were told.
Rookie catcher Jonah Heim, who had recently made his MLB debut, continued his success at the plate. Heim mentioned he liked watching Olson put on a show.
“That’s huge. When you have Matt Olson hitting triples and homers, it’s scary,” Heim said. “He’s putting really good swings together, he’s barreling up some good balls, with him in the middle of the lineup and he can do all that, it’s scary to watch.”
Luckily Heim doesn’t have to face him, but he gets to witness it from the dugout. That will do for now.