BALTIMORE — The final days of an 18-day stretch of games is when a team might start to slump.
Not the A’s.
Thursday, for the second time in less than 24 hours, they hit five home runs. Two of them came off the bat of Khris Davis, who had hit a pair Wednesday.
“When he gets going, he puts on a show,” manager Bob Melvin said after an 8-5 victory that sent the A’s to Texas on a three-game win streak.. “We’ve seen him go on some runs similar to these. A lot of times they end up being big home runs, too.”
Davis’ two blasts gave him nine home runs for the season, tops in the majors. Kendrys Morales, Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien also homered, with Morales’ solo home run his first as a member of the A’s.
Aaron Brooks did his part with six innings of three-run ball. But things got a little close in the seventh.
The Orioles (5-8) scored four runs in the seventh to cut the A’s lead to two runs at the time. Jonathan Villar threatened to trim it further with a liner to right, but Stephen Piscotty made a great diving catch to rob Villar of an RBI and extra bases.
“Momentum is a powerful thing,” Melvin said. “They had the momentum there for a little bit and if that ball drops, it’s a whole different game. That’s what Stephen does. He’s made some really big plays for us over the past couple of years.”
Joakim Soria and Blake Treinen closed it out in the final two innings, with Treinen recording his fourth save of the year.
The A’s (9-8) begin a three-game series at Texas on Friday night to close out the 18-gamel stretch.
Here are some quick takeaways:
1. Edwin Jackson’s return has the team hyped
Jackson will need a few weeks in the minor leagues to build up his pitch count, but A’s players were already excited Thursday morning to learn about having one of the leaders of the clubhouse from 2018 back in the fold.
“It kind of got around last night amongst the group,” Melvin said. “This guy meant so much to us last year. Performance is one thing, but what he meant on the off days when he wasn’t pitching, he was the biggest cheerleader and one of the guys everybody rallied around.
“There are certain guys who are more important in the clubhouse. From day one that he got to us, he was that impactful. He’s going to be terrific to have here.”
The A’s were 14-3 in Jackson’s starts last year. The right-hander held opponents to a .221 batting average in what was a career resurrection for him at age 34 after a poor couple of seasons prior to joining the A’s on a minor league deal. He’ll look to replicate that success in 2019 on a minor league deal reportedly worth up to $2 million with incentives.
“I don’t think our expectations were anywhere near what he actually delivered for us,” Melvin said. “You can forecast all you want, but certain guys just step up. Certain guys get better in the moment. We saw a guy right away we felt would help us and he did.
“Some guys are inspired by being around certain groups. I think that was the case with him and I expect that to be the same this year.”
2. This is ridiculous, even for Khris Davis
In a seven-year career that features 202 home runs and 142 since the start of the 2016 season, there is not much left for Davis to conquer in the power category. But he added a new accomplishment to the mantle.
Davis followed up a two-homer night from Wednesday night’s victory with another one Thursday, the first time the slugger has put together back-to-back multi-homer games in his career.
“It’s awesome, isn’t it? He’s totally flipped a switch,” Brooks said. “He goes about his business professionally and it’s always only a matter of time before he goes out and does what he’s been doing the last couple of days.”
With four home runs over the past two games, Davis is primed for another one of his classic hot streaks. Next stop? Globe Life Park in Texas, a stadium he owns with 15 home runs in 27 career games.
“It’s come up,” Melvin said when asked if there had been any buzz Davis’ impending arrival to Texas. “He’s hit some home runs there as well. When someone as good as him gets hot, he literally is able to carry a team.”
3. Josh Phegley is pulling away with the everyday job
Returning to the lineup from an off-day the night before, Phegley smashed a two-run homer Thursday for his third home run in his past four games played. His 1 for 4 day pushed his career-high hit streak to seven games as his overall batting for the season to .313.
Phegley entered the 2019 season in a platoon role with Nick Hundley after carrying the label of “back-up catcher’ throughout his career. Now getting regular playing time, he’s taking advantage of the opportunity. He’ll continue to get starts due to his solid all-around defense, which comes especially valuable when working with pitchers who are a little bit slower to the plate with their delivery. But if Phegley keeps up the hitting, he’ll increase his playing time beyond a platoon role.