A trip to Nashville has revived an A’s bat – The Mercury News

 

OAKLAND – Mark Canha, who had to go to Nashville to find his stroke, is starting to show the A’s he hasn’t lost it, most notably with Friday night’s walkoff homer in a 3-2, 10-inning win over Boston.

The A’s thought they had something when Canha, a Rule 5 pickup, had 16 homers and 70 RBI in his rookie season in 2015. But a hip injury all but wiped out his 2016 season, and even at full healthy he had a .105 batting average 11 games into this season and was Nashville bound.

“I needed the reps, I needed the at-bats,” Canha said after he’d washed the celebratory whipped cream and Gatorade off his body. “There were some keys I needed to figure out.”

Canha came back to the A’s two weeks ago and even then got inconsistent at-bats for a struggling A’s team on the last road trip. But in the one game the A’s won Tuesday, Canha had three hits, including a double and a three-run homer.

That was but prelude to Friday, He doubled and tripled home a run against one of the game’s best left-handed starters, Chris Sale. He thought his night was through when Ryon Healy mashed a ball over the center field wall in the ninth, but Jackie Bradley Jr.’s leaping catch denied Healy and set the stage for Canha.

“I thought it was out, I thought it was a homer,” Canha said of Healy’s blast. “You never expect a guy to jump up and make an amazing play like that. But then when it happened, I was like, `oh, yeah, it’s Jackie Bradley out there.’”

Heath Hembree came out of the Boston bullpen to start the 10th inning. He didn’t stay on the mound long. He missed with two pitches to Canha, who despite being ahead in the count, wasn’t happy.

“Even then I was battling myself,” he said. “On the 1-0 pitch, I was super-rushy, super-jumpy. I needed to calm down after that pitch. I saw it and put a good swing on it. I kept myself in check.”

His teammates didn’t. He got the pie to the face and the bath, wiped it all off as best he could and enjoyed the moment. Half an hour later, he saw someone had put his cap in his locker, whipped cream still on it and dripping down on his socks, which were immediately not wearable. A small price to pay.

“It was crazy,” he said.” It’s a night I’ll never forget.”

Healy thought for a moment that he’d be the man in the middle of the celebration, but he was more than happy to pass it off.

He talked about the A’s improved approach against Sale, a pitcher who’d beaten the A’s twice last year with a 1.80 ERA, stressing “we just took a much more aggressive approach against the lefty.

“All-in-all, we had a pretty good approach,” Healy said. “We had some big at-bats. He’s an elite pitcher and we just kept battling him all night.”

It wasn’t until Sale was out of the game that the A’s could finally take command. Healy, and the entire A’s bench, thought the game was over in the ninth. When it wasn’t, Canha made short work of it in the 10th.

“You need to talk to Mark Canha,” Healy said with a smile. “He’s the hero.”

NOTES

  • Shortstop Marcus Semien was in a happy mood Friday after having gotten the cast off his previously fractured right wrist earlier in the day. He’d been wearing for over four weeks. Now he says his goal is to be ready when his time on the 60-day disabled list is up on June 14. “It’s a matter of being able to deal with the pain and get it strong again,” Semien said. “My goal is to be back as soon as I’m allowed to play.”
  • Relievers Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, Santiago Casilla and Ryan Dull combined to shut the Red Sox out for four innings after starter Kendall Graveman left locked in a 2-all tie. Dull got the win “but as long as we won, it doesn’t matter who got it,” he said. The relievers were rocked on the road on the most recent 1-6 trip, but they are 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in May in the Coliseum.
  • Trevor Plouffe became the first A’s hitter this season to get hits in 10 consecutive games with a single in the second inning. He was 14-for-33, .424 in the first nine games of the streak and came into the game with a season-best average of .252.
  • Graveman lowered his ERA to 3.83 and five of his eight appearances, including Friday’s, have been quality starts.
  • John Axford, who made three appearances on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville in the last week, likely will be activated Saturday because the A’s may need an extra arm after going through four relievers Friday.
  • First baseman Yonder Alonso’s left knee forced him to miss a second consecutive start Friday. It’s possible he’ll be back this weekend, but it’s looking more like a Tuesday return.
  • Right-handed starter Daniel Mengden might be “on the verge of being activated” from the disabled list Melvin said. Mengden, coming off right foot surgery, threw six innings Thursday for Triple-A Nashville in Fresno, allowing one run on four hits, no walks and seven strikeouts. “I think we’re getting pretty close,” Melvin said. “It’s good to see him get a lengthy outing and get some results, too.”

 

A trip to Nashville has revived an A’s bat – The Mercury News

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