OAKLAND, Calif. — Manager Bob Melvin is fond of saying the Athletics are at their best when hitting home runs and showing patience in the batter’s box.
They’ve proven they’re pretty good when pinch-hitting, too.
Pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman delivered a two-run triple over center fielder Mike Trout’s head as part of a seven-run eighth inning when the A’s benefited from four consecutive walks, and Oakland rallied to beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-6 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
“That’s just the mentality of this team,” Grossman said. “How many times this season has something like that occurred? This team’s full of confidence. We never feel like we’re out of it.”
Oakland remained a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card. The Athletics hold the second spot, a game ahead of Cleveland.
The A’s trailed 6-1 and had only four hits before batting around in the seventh, when the Angels used five pitchers.
Josh Phegley started the comeback with a two-run homer off José Suarez. Ty Buttrey (6-7) came on and allowed Marcus Semien’s single, followed by walks to Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Mark Canha to force in a run. Jurickson Profar walked to force in another run, and Khris Davis added an RBI groundout.
Grossman followed with a first-pitch triple off Adalberto Mejía that sailed past Trout’s outstretched glove as he jumped for the ball near the fence. Grossman, who bats primarily left-handed, switched to the right side when the lefty Mejía was brought in.
“He doesn’t have a ton of right-handed at-bats this year but I think it’s probably a low-maintenance swing for him,” Melvin said. “He was ready for it and he was aggressive coming off the bench with guys on base.”
Grossman’s triple was the 13th extra-base hit by A’s pinch-hitters this season, tying the Oakland record set in 1968. Overall, the A’s are 23- for-81 in pinch-hit situations.
“Pinch-hitting, you have to be aggressive early,” Grossman said. “You have to see where you’re at on the first pitch and I put a good swing on it. Luckily Mr. Trout didn’t catch it.”
Profar drove in three runs and Semien had four hits for Oakland.
The A’s moved a game ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild card. The Indians lost 7-1 to the Chicago White Sox earlier Thursday.
Trout hit his 45th home run to tie for the major league lead. The towering, two-run drive off Brett Anderson landed high in the seats in left-center and was estimated at 455 feet. Pete Alonso of the New York Mets also has 45 homers.
“I thought (Anderson) might go with a first-pitch fastball so I would hit a groundball,” Trout said. “It’s tough to have a lead like that and lose.”
A.J. Puk (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Puk, one of Oakland’s top pitching prospects, had not pitched since Aug. 26.