A’s topple Rangers on 2 homers by Davis
OAKLAND, Calif. — There’s nothing like a game against the Texas Rangers to help Khris Davis snap out of a serious slump.
The Oakland Athletics slugger had gone 2-for-26 with 12 strikeouts, one home run and one RBI in his previous six games before facing the surging Rangers on Friday night at Oakland Coliseum.
Davis hit his 35th and 36th home runs of the season, powering the A’s to a 3-1 victory and dealing a blow to the Rangers’ wild-card playoff run.
Davis has 15 home runs and 31 RBIs in 28 career games against the Rangers. The homers and RBIs are his most against any opponent.
“He seems to be very comfortable in the batter’s box against us,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s swung the bat extremely well, especially with the home run situation against us. We’ve got to do a much better job against Davis.
“He sees the ball well off us. We’ve got to find a way to execute better against Davis. He generates a lot of leverage.”
Davis hit solo shots in the fourth and seventh innings off Texas right-hander Nick Martinez. He moved into second place in the American League home run race behind the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has 37 blasts.
Davis said he doesn’t know whether Rangers’ pitchers attack him differently than other teams.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Davis said. “I don’t know if they pitch me any different. I know they know who I am.”
The Rangers fell two games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Right-hander Kendall Graveman pitched seven strong innings for the A’s. Graveman (4-4) allowed one run and nine hits, struck out six and walked none in his fifth start since spending over two months on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. He improved to 2-0 in three starts against Texas this season.
“Tonight I felt great, even (my) last pitch of the game,” Graveman said. “I think that’s a huge compliment to our training staff and our strength coach that got me back healthy.”
Chris Hatcher pitched a scoreless eighth and Blake Treinen a perfect ninth for his sixth save for the A’s and ninth of the season.
Davis snapped a 1-1 tie with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh, a 432-foot blast. He launched Martinez’s 2-1 curveball high over the center field wall.
“Just a curveball that I meant to bounce,” Martinez said. “It didn’t bounce, and he crushed it. That curveball to Davis, I had my sights down on the ground and it didn’t quite get there.”
Matt Joyce followed with a double to right center and scored with two outs on Matt Chapman’s sharp single to center, increasing Oakland’s lead to 3-1.
Martinez was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday and made his 14th start of the season for Texas. He allowed three runs and four hits in a career high-matching seven innings. He struck out seven, tying his career high, and walked two.
“I loved how Nick was really poised on the mound,” Banister said. “You can see that he’s worked extremely hard at keeping the delivery together. I felt like it was a really solid outing. It’s something to build on.”
Martinez replaced Tyson Ross in the rotation. Ross moved to the bullpen, and A.J. Griffin had his scheduled start pushed back two days to Sunday.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning but squandered a chance to do more damage.
Delino DeShields lined a leadoff single to right, moved to second on Elvis Andrus’ one-out single and scored when Adrian Beltre grounded a single to left.
With runners on first and second, Graveman got Nomar Mazara to ground into a double play, ending the threat.
“It was big,” Graveman said of the double play. “Especially after they scored one and you’ve got a man on first and second with one out. You’re still one pitch away. That was the mindset.”
The A’s were hitless against Martinez until Davis lined his 2-0 fastball for a solo home run to left with one out in the fourth, making it 1-1. Davis said his recent skid wasn’t on his mind when he went to the plate.
“That’s part of our job, to have that short-term memory,” Davis said. “All we can control is right now, and that’s all we got.”
NOTES: Rangers OF Carlos Gomez (excision of a cyst behind his right shoulder), took batting practice and worked out on the field before Friday’s game against Oakland. Barring a setback, Gomez will likely be reinstated from the disabled list Saturday, the first day he’s eligible. ... RHP Nick Gardewine was optioned to Double-A Frisco. ... Rangers 3B/OF Joey Gallo (concussion) took pregame batting practice as he continued to recover from a concussion. He’s eligible to be instated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Tuesday. ... A’s RHP Paul Blackburn (right hand contusion) was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday. The rookie was hit on his right hand Tuesday by Orioles OF/INF Trey Mancini’s line drive to lead off the fifth inning at Camden Yards. RHP Chris Smith will return from the bullpen to the rotation Tuesday and make a spot start in place of Blackburn against the Angels. ... A’s RHP Michael Brady was recalled from Triple-A Nashville and began his fourth stint of the season with Oakland. ... OF Mark Canha was recalled from Triple-A Nashville and began his fourth stint of the season with the A’s. He’ll start in center field on Saturday.