At some point, Oakland hitters are going to get tired of being hit by pitches.
Check that. They’re already there. The A’s were hit thrice more Tuesday night in a 10-3 win over the Rangers, including a visually scary pitch that caught third baseman Matt Chapman on the left earpiece of his batting helmet.
“It’s frustrating at times,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But more than anything, when a guy gets hit in the head, that’s very concerning.”
Chapman was tended to by Melvin and the A’s medical crew. He remained standing near the plate, then did a little walk around. Then he walked to first base.
“He wanted no part of coming out of that game,” Melvin said.
Tony Kemp, who was hit an inning later remained in the game, too, as did Mark Canha, hit in the seventh. To prove his good healthy, Canha raced around the bases to score from first on a three-run Stephen Piscotty double that capped a five-run inning that blew the game open.
Both of the first two HBP also led to runs, with Matt Olson homering in the fourth inning and Marcus Semien going deep an inning later. Canha drove in a run by being hit with the bases loaded, then later scored on Piscotty’s double.
Oakland batters have been hit by pitches 24 times, which leads the American League – the Indians are second at 18. Those two dozen may have led to A’s starter Sean Manaea plunking Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos with a 94-mph pitch in the fifth inning. It might have been the most velocity Manaea has gotten on a pitch all season.
That led to a two-run inning in the fifth for the Rangers, but Manaea pitched out of it and the bullpen gave the A’s another four scoreless innings to close it out. The Oakland bullpen hasn’t been scored on in the last 21.1 innings.
At that time that Chirinos was hit, both teams were warned against further incursions. For the A’s, who have seen their pitchers hit just nine batters in the first 31 games of the season, they had to be wondering what took so long. There was, of course, another incursion.
Canha was hit in the seventh, but because it seemed clear there was no ill-intent because the bases were loaded, neither the A’s nor home plate umpire Gabe Morales overreacted. Moments later, Piscotty’s double, which produced his 23rd, 24th and 25th RBI of the month, put the A’s in the comfort zone en route to a 21-10 record and a four-game lead in the American League West.
“You look at the numbers, and it was the same thing last year,” Melvin said of the hit batters – this was the third game in which Oakland batters were hit three times. “We have some guys that you have to pitch in, and we have some guys who are on the plate a little bit, but it’s a big number.”
Better news for Oakland batters were the at-bats they were able to square up. Semien doubled, homered and singled and has six hits in the first two games of the series. Olson, who was demoted to the No. 6 spot in the lineup for the first time, singled sharply in his first at-bat, then delivered his 10th homer.
So, there was some satisfaction there.
“I’ve been missing the pitches that I’ve been getting to hit, fouling them off and swinging through them,” Olson said. “I’ve been working, and you saw the results today, because I didn’t miss them.”
With the Astros splitting a doubleheader Tuesday, the A’s are now four games up in the American League West with a 21-10 record that is the best in the American League.
That made for a nice debut for rookie catcher Jonah Heim, who not only caught Sean Manaea’s win, but drew a walk in his first plate trip, but singled and scored in the five-run seventh inning.
“There are really no words to describe it,” Heim said after spending seven years getting to the big leagues. “I mean, you dream of this as a kid. We played well as a team, we got the `W,’ and that’s all you can ask for. I had a blast.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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