-- For one night, at least, the question of where the offense will come from with the 2015 A’s was met with a resounding answer -- several of them.
The A’s beat the Texas Rangers, 8-0, on 11 hits that included two big home runs by new No. 3 hitter Ben Zobrist and catcher Stephen Vogt. Zobrist hit a two-run homer off Texas starter Yovani Gallardo in his first at-bat in an A’s uniform, and Vogt’s three-run homer off reliever Phil Klein made it a 7-0 game in the seventh.
Seven members of the starting lineup had hits, the kind of 1-through-9 production the A’s said would be crucial to their success this year. The homers were perhaps more a pleasant surprise for a team that lost power hitters Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss in offseason trades and entered spring with questions about whether their lineup had any pop left.
"I do think we have some power," manager Bob Melvin said. "We might not have as much as we have in the past. But we’re going to be able to win some games with some home runs."
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Zobrist said he hit a slider or cutter from Gallardo, and it was "nice to get the first one out of the way, get the first runs. Then we just sat back and watched Sonny (Gray) the rest of the way."
If Zobrist’s homer broke the ice, Vogt’s opened the floodgates. Vogt also doubled as part of a two-run rally in the fourth, and said he thinks the A’s lineup actually still has "a lot" of power.
The lineup is currently missing Josh Reddick (oblique) and Coco Crisp (elbow), who has seen his home run totals rise in the leadoff spot later in his career. Both could bring some power into a lineup that on Monday night featured no player that hit more than 12 homers in 2014 (third baseman Brett Lawrie).
Zobrist, Billy Butler and Ike Davis all have past seasons of 20 or more homers, and Vogt said he thinks even if they don’t approach those career highs again, the A’s could still hit for the same kind of power they did last year -- collectively.
"I think we have more consistent power throughout the lineup," Vogt said. "We may not have a 30-home run guy …. But I think you’re going to see up and down the lineup, guys hunting around 10, 15.
"We may not get them all from the middle of the order, we may not get them all from two or three guys, but I think there’s the potential for us to hit close to the same amount of home runs (146) we hit last year."
* One area the A’s supposedly did upgrade this offseason was their defense, and Monday night the infield played excellent defense behind Gray. All four infielders made at least one play displaying good range, and Davis in particular looked good at first base, picking low throws and diving to his right to take away a hit in the eighth inning.
"We’ll take it," Melvin sid. "Not only was it good plays, there was a lot of range involved too. They got to a lot of balls."
Gray singled out shortstop Marcus Semien, who in the sixth inning went up the middle on a sharp grounder by Rougned Odor to make what looked like a routine play.
"When I threw the pitch and they hit it, in the back of my head I’m kind of like, aw man," Gray said. "And he was there and made it look very routine, which was awesome."
Semien played mostly shortstop in the minors but is a regular there in the majors for the first time, so Monday’s game had to be encouraging both for him and the A’s. At third base, Brett Lawrie also made a couple of charging plays on slow choppers that showed his athleticism at the position. His defense could certainly help lessen the blow of losing Donaldson, who made a lot of errors but some spectacular plays at third.
* The one defensive miscue came from Ben Zobrist, who played left field in the absence of both Crisp and Reddick. Zobrist dropped a very catchable Leonys Martin fly ball in the sixth and said afterward he lost the ball in the lights.
"(I thought) it should be about ‘here,’ and it just didn’t fall into the glove," Zobrist said. "Something I’ll learn from and just kind of figure the lights out here as time goes on."
* Melvin won his first challenge of the season when he asked for a review of a fielder’s choice in the fifth. A review showed the Texas second baseman Odor had dropped a flip from shortstop Elvis Andrus despite tagging second base before runner Sam Fuld -- something that became evident after a short review.
"That was (video coordinator) Adam Rhoden calling," Melvin said.
* Melvin talked before the game about how the streak of 10 consecutive losses in season openers, including four under his watch, was wearing on him.
"That was a big monkey we needed to get off our back there," he said afterward. "And to do it in the fashion we did here was terrific."
* One down, 161 to go. One conclusion Zobrist, playing for a team other than the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time in his career, said he has already drawn about the A’s: They’re going to be keep things interesting this year.
"We keep it loose," Zobrist said. "It’s definitely something that this team has been known for and I think will continue this year. We’re going to be fun. We’re going to be fun to watch, and we’re going to have a lot of fun as a team."