A’s ride young bats to victory, plant seeds for a hopeful future
Oakland Athletics’ Franklin Barreto (1) celebrates with Bruce Maxwell after the pair scored on Barreto’s two-run home run off Chicago White Sox starting pitcher James Shields during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO — Another piece of the A’s future turned up on Saturday and quickly offered an enticing preview of what may lie ahead.
Top prospect Franklin Barreto arrived from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday morning, was unexpectedly inserted in the lineup and clubbed a two-run home run in his second big league at-bat.
He was among three A’s kids — all three onetime minor league teammates — who had first career home runs in a 10-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Barreto, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a pair of runs, said the call-up was a surprise, although the A’s needed to make a move with infielder Chad Pinder on the disabled list after suffering a hamstring injury on Friday.
“I haven’t really slept a lot, actually not really any,” Barreto said through a translator. “I just got my bags, got here and I’ve been anxious to get to The Show and realize my dream.”
Right fielder Matt Olson and center fielder Jaycob Brugman also homered as the A’s opened a quick 3-0 lead off Chicago starter James Shields.
“These guys have fed off each other all the way through the system,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “They know each other really well and have won together.
“And for Barreto to come off a plane this morning and think he’s not in the lineup and the next thing he is in the lineup and then to do what he did is amazing.”
Olson’s two-run shot to right field — his first of two on Saturday — came with none out in the opening inning and drove in designated hitter Matt Joyce, who reached base on a walk.
Brugman’s solo home run in the second — also landing in right — gave the A’s a 3-0 lead and came after Barreto struck out in his first big league at bat.
Not to be outdone, A’s right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-2) held the lead from there as he earned his first Major League victory.
Gossett limited Chicago to two runs on five hits through a six-inning start, his third of the season. He struck out five and walked one.
“As a pitcher, selfishly, I reap the benefits of it because I can go out there and pitch a little more confident,” Gossett said. “To see guys I’ve played with a little bit last year and this year, to see Barreto get his first hit and other guys get their first home runs it’s really special for them and I’m glad I was part of it.”
The homers by Olson, Brugman and Barreto made them the second set of three teammates to hit their first big league home runs in a single game since 1914.
The other occurrence came by a trio from the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League, a third major league that operated between 1914-15.
The A’s added another run with two out in the second when Ryon Healy singled to center to score Adam Rosales, who had reached on a double to left.
Barreto’s homer to center in the third came on a 2-2 pitch with one out and also drove in Bruce Maxwell as the lead ballooned to 6-0.
Shields was pulled with none out in the fourth with A’s runners on first and second. He allowed six runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out five in three-plus innings.
Chicago hit Gossett for single runs in the third and fourth innings but the A’s matched them in the fifth as they loaded the bases with one out .
Rosales’ base hit scored Maxwell to make it 7-2 and chase Chicago reliever Michael Ynoa. Gregory Infante, the third White Sox pitcher of the afternoon, then walked Joyce to bring home Barreto for an 8-2 lead.
Olson launched his second two-run homer of the afternoon in the seventh inning off reliever Jake Petricka to bring home Rosales for a 10-2 lead.
“It was a lot of fun, a lot of special moments for a few guys who we’ve been playing with to all do that on the same day,” Olson said.
Maxwell went 3-for-5 while Rosales, Olson and Khris Davis also had two hits apiece in a 15-hit attack.
Barreto, 21, was batting .281 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 68 games with Nashville. His versatility and bat are among qualities the A’s appreciate.
“He’s a young kid, but we think highly enough of him to get him here to the big leagues,” Melvin said. “We feel like at some point in time he’s going to have a long stay here.”
The victory was the second straight for the A’s, who can complete the series sweep in Sunday’s finale.
As expected, Pinder was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring strain after leaving Friday’s game in the sixth inning.
He had started 39 games for the A’s this season at five different positions and was batting .290 with three doubles, a home run, and seven RBI during that stretch.
The A’s now have nine players on the disabled list.
Second baseman Jed Lowrie was a late scratch on Saturday, removing himself from the lineup after a sprained right knee suffered on Friday worsened while swinging in batting cages on Saturday morning.
That allowed Barreto to step in and make his first Major League start.
“Sometimes when you get here the best thing you can do is get him right in the game, right in the lineup,” Melvin said.
The A’s send right-hander Sonny Gray (2-3, 4.84 ERA) against White Sox lefty Derek Holland (5-7, 4.48). Gray Is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA and .319 opponents batting average over his last five starts. He is 1-0 with a 5.29 ERA in three career starts against Chicago.
Holland is 5-5 with a 3.45 ERA in 21 career outings against the A’s. As a starter he is 5-4 with a 3.54 ERA and one complete game, including seven quality starts.