OAKLAND — The storylines are light on positives for the A’s lately, but Khris Davis is waging a battle against that reality.
The first-year Athletic connected for his 33rd home run, a three-run shot in the bottom of the first, to set the tone for Oakland’s 9-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night. He walked and scored in the third, when the A’s bumped their lead to 5-0, and added a double in the fifth, scoring three runs total on the night.
That paved the way for left-hander Sean Manaea, who held Cleveland to three hits over seven innings to collect just his second win since June.
Davis’ homer in the first, a drive to right off Danny Salazar (11-5), gave him the most homers by an Athletic since Jack Cust reached the same number in 2008. He’s also just the second right-handed hitter to crack the 30-home run mark for Oakland over the last 14 years. Frank Thomas was the other with 39 in 2006.
Davis needs seven more over the final 36 games to become the A’s first 40-homer man since Jason Giambi in 2000. The night also provided a good rebound for him after Davis struck out in all four plate appearances Monday. Going back to Sunday, he had whiffed in six consecutive trips to the plate. But overall in his last 12 games, Davis is hitting .341 (15-for-44).
There were highlights all around for the A’s, including Ryon Healy’s three-hit night, the first career RBI for Chad Pinder and Bruce Maxwell and two hits for Danny Valencia, who also threw out a runner from right field in his first start since his clubhouse fight with Billy Butler.
Starting pitching report: Boosted by the early lead, Manaea (5-8) buzzed through the Indians’ lineup with ease, striking out eight and holding them to three hits. The seven innings pitched marked the deepest he’s pitched in a game since he went eight full against Tampa Bay on July 22.
Bullpen report: John Axford and Chris Smith closed it out for the A’s.
At the plate: Pinder’s run-scoring single to left highlighted Oakland’s two-run third. He entered the game 1-for-11 since receiving his first big league call-up Wednesday. Valencia singled and doubled in his first two at-bats and scored both times, helping ensure it would be a short night for Salazar, who was tagged for six runs over four-plus innings. Maxwell, who is quite familiar with Manaea from their time as minor league teammates, drove a two-run double in the eighth for the first RBI of his career.
In the field: Jake Smolinski sprawled out for a spectacular diving catch to rob Brandon Guyer in the eighth, the most impressive play yet since Smolinski took over as the A’s primary center fielder after the All-Star break.
Attendance: Included in the crowd of 13,141 were four people dressed in T-Rex dinosaur costumes, doing what they can to make A’s baseball lively in late August.
Up next: Coming off his first career shutout in his last outing, Kendall Graveman (9-8, 4.09) takes the hill in Wednesday afternoon’s 12:35 game. He sports the eighth-lowest home ERA in the American League at 3.03. The Indians counter with Trevor Bauer (9-5, 3.88).