Nearing home plate, where his A’s teammates waited for him in a teeming mob, Khris Davis stopped, took off his helmet, set his feet and shot it basketball-style into the crowd before finishing his home-run trot.
"I’ve had that in the back of my head since like last year," Davis said of the celebratory flourish. "I finally got the chance to do it, and I wasn’t going to miss it."
An 8-5 win
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The move punctuated Davis’ third home run Tuesday night, a walk-off grand slam that gave the A’s an 8-5 win over the Texas Rangers after they’d blown a one-run lead in the top of the ninth and were down to their final strike. It was Davis’ first three-homer game in the majors, and he savored the final trip around the bases as much as what remained of a crowd of 12,718 at the Coliseum to witness one of the craziest finishes of the season.
"Pretty extraordinary," Davis said of his last trip around the bases. "I was just seeing all the fans just go off and they were really into it. I was pleased I could just put on a show for them."
Davis became the ninth A’s player since 1913 to have a game of at least three home runs and six RBIs, according to baseball-reference.com, and the first since Miguel Tejada did so against the Rangers on June 30, 2001. It was the 16th three-homer game by an Oakland A’s player -- and the second in three days, following Danny Valencia’s power outburst in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"It’s incredible," A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. "You don’t see it very often, period, let alone twice in three days on your own team."
But the ball was flying Tuesday on a warm evening in Oakland. The A’s and the Rangers combined for seven home runs, including one by Valencia -- who went back-to-back with Davis off Texas starter Cole Hamels in the second inning -- and one each from Rangers hitters Nomar Mazara, Adrian Beltre and Ian Desmond.
Mazara and Beltre went back-to-back in the fourth as part of a three-run inning against A’s starter Jesse Hahn, who allowed all of his runs in the span of five batters. The A’s retook the lead on Davis’ second home run in the sixth inning and a two-out RBI single by Valencia in the seventh, and turned it over to closer Ryan Madson for the ninth.
Madson retired his first two batters before Rougned Odor singled to bring up Desmond, who hit a 1-0 changeup into the left-field seats. It was Madson’s first blown save of the season in 12 chances and the first earned runs he had allowed in 14 appearances. Vogt, though, said the blow wasn’t as damaging as it might have appeared.
"Even after Desmond hit the homer, there wasn’t like a deflation in our dugout," he said. "It was like, hey, all right, fine, let’s do this a different way."
Vogt led off the bottom of the ninth with a swinging bunt down the first-base line. Texas closer Shawn Tolleson fielded it but his throw hit Vogt, who reached on the infield hit.
"The whole way down to first I was telling myself, ‘Don’t run inside the base line, don’t run inside the base line,’" Vogt said.
Coco Crisp, who had failed to execute a sacrifice bunt earlier in the game, doubled down the right-field line, sending Vogt to third. For Madson, that’s when he felt the tenor of the game pivot.
"When he hit that double down the line, it was like, OK, we’re going to win this game," Madson said. "Going back to last year (with the Royals), even the games I didn’t have a good game, the team came back and did something special. It reminded me of that."
Billy Burns popped out, and the Rangers elected to walk Josh Reddick to load the bases, setting up the force play at home, and pitch to Valencia, who flied out to shallow right. That brought up Davis, who watched two pitches out of the strike zone before fouling off three straight fastballs.
Hahn, watching the final inning from inside the A’s clubhouse, said he could tell Davis was just missing on the foul balls.
"We were like, ‘Please throw him another heater,’" Hahn said. "Then we saw it and we all jumped up, flipped out, and that was it."
Davis had hit his two previous home runs on off-speed pitches and said: "I thought they were going to make me beat them with the fastball in that AB." Tolleson threw his sixth consecutive fastball, and Davis lined it into the bleachers in left field.
"If you’re a baseball fan I don’t know if you get a better game to watch," A’s manager Bob Melvin said. "Certainly if you’re an A’s fan it turned out the way you wanted it to. We would’ve liked to have ended it a little bit earlier, but the way dramatics go, and the way it was going, it seemed like something dramatic was going to happen."
The walk-off grand slam was the seventh in A’s history and first since Brandon Inge hit one May 8, 2012 against the Blue Jays. The A’s won their third straight game and fourth of five since a five-game losing streak that included a humbling sweep in Boston.
"We’re playing good baseball," Vogt said. "Anytime you’ve got individual performances like (Davis’ or Valencia’s) that carry the team, it gets everybody jazzed up and makes everybody play better. Those two guys, with the days they’ve had the past few days, it’s been a lot of fun for us to watch. I think we’re all jumping on board and riding the train."
Vogt helped deliver the traditional Gatorade shower to Davis, after he’d been pied in the face by Reddick. Davis said he appreciated that the pie was composed of whipped cream, not shaving cream, though he added: "It ruined my appetite for this post-game meal."
And as for the helmet shot?
"It was a swish," Davis said.