OAKLAND – It’s only April, and until recently he didn’t play every day, but there’s a case to be made for saying Adam Rosales is the A’s Most Valuable Player.
Saturday was the A’s fifth consecutive win, this one 4-3 over the Mariners, and it’s safe to say that Rosales has been the driving force behind the surge that has pushed Oakland two games over .500 for the first time in 12 months.
Midgame Tuesday the A’s were mired in a four-game losing streak. They trailed the Rangers 2-0. They’d had just one hit and two base runners in the first five-plus innings that night and hadn’t scored in 15 innings overall.
Then Rosales stepped up and jacked out a two-run homer. More than just tying the game, that blast flipped a switch. That homer was the first of nine bombs in the next 4½ games, including Saturday’s game-tying leadoff homer in the first inning by Rosales. Two batters later Ryon Healy delivered a two-run shot to secure the lead for Oakland and the A’s didn’t trail again.
#Athletics Adam Rosales, who homered to start A’s first, says Chris Young taught him what he needed to know about leading off. pic.twitter.com/n7NeFdRZVz
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 23, 2017
“You look at it, and he put a spark of fire in all of our rear ends,” Healy said. “That homer (against the Rangers) was definitely a big swing for us.”
Rosales has had to step in with Marcus Semien having suffered a fractured wrist. There were questions asked as to why the A’s didn’t go to the minor leagues for the man they see as their shortstop of the future, Franklin Barreto, but for now, having Rosales as the shortstop of the present is working out nicely.
Beginning with that homer, Rosales owns a five-game hitting streak with five RBI, a double and two homers while going 6-for-16. Rosales sprints wherever he goes, and now he has the A’s setting a torrid pace collectively. Oakland batters have followed his lead, going 43-for-144 (.299) with 11 doubles to add to those nine homers.
And, oh yeah, five wins. All those wins do is get Oakland to 10-8, good for second place in the early stages of the American League West race. And the A’s clubhouse, not a happening place the last couple of years, feels the energy.
“You see the smile he has on his face?” Saturday’s winning pitcher Jharel Cotton said of Rosales. “That says it all, man. He’s really had an impact for us, a lot of energy. Beginning with that homer, he’s stepped up.”
The offense from Rosales and Healy came in support of a solid effort from Cotton. The right-hander was stung almost immediately by a Robinson Cano first-inning homer and was having trouble commanding his pitches. But with the A’s up 3-2 in the third and two men on, he found himself.
Cotton allowed just two of the final 12 men he faced to reach base, and “I think you could see the sixth was my best inning,” he said.
Jharel Cotton said some advice from Ryon Healy helped him score Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Mariners. pic.twitter.com/0HrtHWvoTS
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 23, 2017
The bullpen allowed one eighth inning run, but Ryan Madson shut that rally off with an inning-ending grounder while the Mariners had the tying run on third base. Madson, last year’s closer, then struck out the side in the ninth, dodging a single and stolen base to record his first save.
“That one felt good,” Madson said. “You try not to think about having to get four outs while you’re out there. But to strand that run for Liam (Hendriks), that was nice.”
Talking before the game about leading off, Rosales had precise memories. “The last time I remember leading off was 2012 in Yankee Stadium,” Rosales said. “It was C.C. (Sabathia, starting for the Yanks). First pitch. Home run.” Records show the event took place on May 3, 2013, actually. But it was memorable. “That was a good one,” Rosales said. “I was talking to CY (Chris Young) about leading off and he told me something I’ve always remembered. When you are leading off, the best pitch you’re likely to see is the first or second one.” On Saturday it was actually the third one, but Rosales could live with that.
Rajai Davis missed his second consecutive start Saturday thanks to a hamstring injury, but did try some sprints. And while he said he’s getting close to being ready to play, he may get Sunday’s series finale off as well. “When I come back it’s going to be 100 percent,” Davis said. “Today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today. But I know we’re not going to rush things.” Monday is a day off, so if manager Bob Melvin can get through Sunday without Davis, he’d get a bonus day of rest when the club travels to Anaheim.
The A’s have now hit 19 homers in the Coliseum, more homers at home than any Major League team so far.
Healy was given Monday and Tuesday off. Since the time off, he’s 9-for-17, .529 with two homers, two doubles and eight RBI.
Kendall Graveman will come off the disabled list (right shoulder) to start one of the three games in Anaheim. Graveman, who says “I’m feeling really good, ready to go,” is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday.
Jed Lowrie’s 71 consecutive games without an error are the third-longest for any Oakland second baseman.
The A’s challenged the second out of an eighth inning double play Saturday. For the first time all year, the A’s won the challenge and the out call was overturned.