Rarefied hot air: A's, Astros make Coliseum history with 10-homer game

Rarefied hot air: A's, Astros make Coliseum history with 10-homer game

OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin walked into his postgame press conference and sat down at the table on stage. Before anyone could even ask a question, the A's manager blurted out, "Coors Field tonight, huh?"

It certainly was, Bob. At least for one night, the Oakland Coliseum transformed into a hitter's park -- dare we say a bandbox? The A's and Astros combined to hit 10 home runs, a Coliseum record, as Oakland surged to a wild 7-6 win in the series opener.

"Not a surprise," Melvin responded when told of the record. "It seemed like any ball that you got in the air tonight had a chance to go out. ... You don't see that often here."

Typically a notorious pitcher's park, the Coliseum played small Thursday night, with warm temperatures and virtually no wind resulting in perfect hitting conditions. Ironically, A's third baseman Matt Chapman had said Wednesday that both Oracle Park in San Francisco and the Coliseum should move their fences in.

"Of course right after I say that we hit 10 home runs in a game," Chapman laughed. "That was a rarity seeing this park playing like that. Usually, it's pretty cold here and the ball doesn't travel. But that was nice."

Chapman hit two of Oakland's five round-trippers, including a 453-foot blast, representing the A's longest homer of the season.

"I've never seen the ball carry like that here," he said. "It feels like we were playing at a normal park."

Chapman wasn't the only A to hit two home runs Thursday night. Matt Olson joined him with his sixth career multi-homer game. Incredibly, Houston's Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley also deposited two long balls each -- the four players with multi-homer games tied the MLB record going back to at least 1908.

"It just felt like it was going to be one of those games early on when you saw the ball start flying like that, just kind of a game of attrition, and whoever comes up with the last home run late in the game has a chance to win," Melvin said. "And it ended up being Chapman."

Chapman indeed launched the final home run of the night, a solo shot in the eighth inning to break a 6-6 tie. It was his 15th go-ahead homer of the season, tying Milwaukee's Christian Yelich for the major-league lead.

"He seems to come up with his big work when the game is on the line," Melvin said. "That's what your best players do."

"It was fun," Chapman said. "That's obviously a really good team that we respect and want to beat. This is the Astros' division until someone knocks them off. So to be able to take the first game of the series like that, it's huge."

[RELATED: Nathan Patterson strikes out side in A's organizational debut]

It was also Chapman's second consecutive multi-homer game, a feat Khris Davis accomplished earlier this season. According to MLB Stats, Chapman and Davis are the only teammates with multiple home runs on back-to-back days this season.

And oh, by the way, the win marked the A's 9,000th in franchise history. Not a bad night at the Coliseum.

A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award


A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

A's closer Liam Hendriks is one of three finalists for the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Hendriks is joined by Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The NL finalists are Josh Hader, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates.

Hendriks, 30, enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The right-hander notched 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, an A's franchise record for relievers, compared to just 21 walks.

Hendriks took over closing duties from Blake Treinen in the middle of the season and finished with 25 saves, along with eight holds. His 124 punchouts led AL relief pitchers and his 1.80 ERA ranked second among AL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Osuna posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Chapman finished with a 2.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 85 in 57 innings.

[RELATED: Hendriks' energy a big part of A's success]

The voting will be conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relief pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Both the AL and NL awards will be presented on October 26, before Game 4 of the World Series.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year


Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.