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Spring Game #7: Matt-to-Matt homers lead A’s offensive barrage

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Four homers, including one that didn’t leave the park

Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s played most of their starting lineup on Sunday in their seventh Cactus League game, and the big bats put on a power display.

The A’s defeated the Cleveland Indians 9-4 in their spring training exhibition contest, on the strength of four homers. Three of them were hit by MLB stars, and the other was an inside-the-parker by a top prospect.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

Oakland got going right away. In the 1st inning, Mark Canha led off with a single, and Matt Olson brought him around with his third homer of the spring. Up next was Matt Chapman, and he went yard too, for Matt-to-Matt homers.

In the 3rd, the Matts reached base again, via a single and an error, respectively. Ramon Laureano followed with another dinger to drive them both home.

“Jake Diekman said Matt Chapman and Matt Olson were using virtual reality headsets to simulate the experience facing today’s pitcher Adam Plutko. About 30 minutes later, they hit back-to-back homers,” reports insider Martin Gallegos.

In the 4th they struck again. They loaded the bases with nobody out, including a walk by Canha and a single by Elvis Andrus, and Laureano drew a free pass to force a run home.

Between the key starters Canha, Andrus, Olson, Chapman, Laureano, and Stephen Piscotty, everybody reached base at least once, totaling 6-for-14 with three homers, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch (Piscotty).

Some less experienced players got in on the action too.

  • IF Vimael Machin went 2-for-2, raising his spring line to 5-for-12 with zero strikeouts. He’s competing for the lefty side of the 2B job.
  • SS Logan Davidson hit an inside-the-park homer! Really it should have just been a normal dinger, but Hohokam Stadium has an enormous “batter’s eye” wall in CF that’s effectively like a Green Monster in center. It bounced high enough up that wall that the outfielder didn’t realize it was still in play, so Davidson scampered all the way home on a ball that would have normally earned him the same result with a slower trot in just about any other stadium. (He’s No. 6 on our Community Prospect List, and the team’s 1st-round draft pick from 2019.)
  • OF Luis Barrera drew a walk! In his spring debut at-bat yesterday he swung at the first pitch and doubled, but this time he scaled back his normal aggressiveness long enough to earn a free a pass. The importance of getting on base was quite literally driven home three batters later when Davidson homered, with two outs already on the board. (Barrera is No. 8 on our Community Prospect List

Also helpful to the A’s scoring efforts? The Indians refrained from using the 20-pitch mercy rule, despite slogging through several long innings.

Pitching

Just audio today, with no video or Statcast, so some quick box score observations:

  • RHP Grant Holmes tossed two perfect frames. Six up, six down, including four groundouts.
  • LHP Jake Diekman and RHP Lou Trivino combined for three scoreless, with Trivino chipping in two of the innings. They each walked the first batter they faced but settled down from there, and they each finished with two strikeouts, plus one hit off Trivino. Diekman operated at 92-94 mph in his spring debut, per Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle, so he’s still building up to full power on his 95+ heater.
  • RHP Paul Blackburn pitched! He was DFA’d, cleared waivers, and stayed in the organization, and he tossed a shaky but scoreless inning — groundout, walk, groundout, walk, strikeout.
  • RHP Dany Jimenez was the only pitcher who allowed runs, and it was a lot of them. Austin Hedges led off with a dinger, then a single and an error set the table, followed by another single and a productive groundout for an RBI apiece, and then a wild pitch to cap it off for a fourth run. Rough day for the Rule 5 draft pick as he tries to make the Opening Day roster.

Biggest positive takeaway there is Holmes, who carved through his assignment with no problems. Some swings and misses would be nice, but grounders are good too. He’s No. 10 on our Community Prospect List, he’s on the 40-man roster, and he has a reasonable chance of making his MLB debut this summer, especially if Sunday’s effort is any sign of things to come.

“I felt a lot better with my command today,” said Holmes, via Athletics Farm. “I was focusing on just pounding the strike zone, not walking anybody. ... The first outing, I was missing away off the plate. Today I narrowed it in a little bit more and I hit the corners a little bit better.”

The right-hander walked two batters in his spring debut last week, so reducing that number to zero was a positive development.

Manager Bob Melvin said the following about Holmes, via Athletics Farm: “Fastball at the bottom of the zone, can pitch it at the top of the zone & has a good breaking ball.”

The A’s return Monday against the Royals at 12:05 p.m., with RHP Parker Dunshee on the mound for Oakland.