Newcomers Minor, Lamb Come Up Big for Athletics in the Smoke of Seattle

John Hickey

Maybe baseball shouldn’t have been played on Monday in Seattle, not with T-Mobile Park awash in smoke and ash and the air quality index (AQI) off the charts.

But play they did, and two new faces used the second game of the doubleheader to make their mark.

After the A’s dropped the opener 6-5 by blowing a five-run lead, Game 2 starter Mike Minor took care that wouldn’t happen again, throwing a seven-inning complete game. He’d been 0-5 with the Rangers, but in his second start with Oakland, he gave up just two hits and two walks in muzzling the Mariners for his first 2020 win.

And Jake Lamb, who signed earlier in the day after having been cut loose by the Arizona Diamondbacks, doubled and homered in helping put the Mariners away. Lamb, a Seattle native, said he’d never seen smoke and rotter air quality in the area he calls home.

“I’ve never seen it like this before,” Lamb said.

Neither had Minor, who said he noticed a little difficulty breathing when the game started, but not so much after getting caught up in the game.

“Initially when I went out there, I could feel it, smell it, whatever,” Minor said. “And then as the game got going, I didn’t really notice; I didn’t have very long innings. But I know that a lot of the other guys ere talking about it and saying how difficult it was.”

Game 2 also was difficult because of Game 1. The A’s built up a 5-0 lead after the top of the fourth inning in the seven-inning game only to have a meltdown in what will stand as one of the worst losses of the season, 6-5.

Minor took that to the mound just as Lamb, the DH in his first game with the A’s, took it to the plate.

“I wouldn’t say it was one of my best games,” Minor said, “But under the circumstances, the way I’ve been doing this year after we lost the first game (made) the second game a pretty big game. But it was great to get out there and get past the fourth inning.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Minor the option whether or not to pitch the seventh inning. The game was well in hand and the Mariners were getting some of their veteran off their feet for a few outs. Minor wanted to finish.

“I’ve been pitching really bad this year,” Minor said, adding that he and catcher Jonah Heim followed the A’s advice to throw more fastballs. “I feel like the whole year I’ve been trying to trick guys rather than just attacking them. And today we threw more fastballs than I normally would throw.”

Lamb knows about bad years. A 2017 All-Star third baseman when he hit 30 homers for the Diamondbacks, he was hitting .116 with no homers when the D-Backs designated him for assignment on Thursday. That left him clear to sign with anyone starting Monday, and the A’s, having to deal with the losses of third baseman Matt Chapman and uber-utility player Chad Pinder.

“You always hate to see injuries, especially being a guy who’s gotten hurt,” Lamb said. “I just saw this as a good opportunity for mem to have a chance to come in, get some Abs and hopefully contribute to a winning team and a playoff run. This is great team.”

The A’s got to the 30-win level of the 60-game season with a dozen games left to play. They have a seven-game lead in the AL West and their magic number to lock down the West is six.

But there are issues, even beyond losing Chapman and Pinder. Stephen Piscotty suffered a right knee sprain in the opener. The A’s will have him checked out Tuesday in Colorado.

And Melvin said the performances of Minor and Lamb automatically have made them closer to their new teammates.

“It makes you feel like you belong to a new team,” Melvin said. “It makes you feel like you are part of the team that much quicker.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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