Coming off consecutive losses to the Seattle Mariners that dropped them a season-high-tying eight games under .500, the A’s held a players-only team meeting before Friday night’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers.
“We’ve been going through a rough patch,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “It was good for us to just all sit down together and have a good chitchat.”
The A’s had lost six of seven entering Friday to fall to 20-28, last in the American League West. The meeting in the A’s clubhouse was fairly short, 10 to 15 minutes.
“(We) just kind of talked about our identity as a team,” left fielder Khris Davis said. “The veterans kind of talked a little bit and they just reminded us that we should believe in ourselves, and just know that guys are going to get the job done.”
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Davis said several players spoke.
“Rich Hill, Ryan (Madson), Coco (Crisp) said his two cents, (Josh) Reddick, all of them,” Davis said. “We have a great group leading us.”
We’ve got some guys in the middle of the order who can hit some homers, but if we’re going to be successful, it has to be contributions like it was today. We’re not going to score 12 every day, but we need everybody in our lineup.
A’s manager Bob Melvin
On Friday, the A’s lost to the Detroit Tigers 4-1. But Oakland broke out offensively on Saturday, totaling 17 hits in a 12-3 rout. The A’s set a season high in runs and collected eight extra-base hits for the first time since Sept. 15.
Three of those were home runs, including one by Davis, who said he thought Friday’s meeting “definitely” influenced the A’s performance Saturday.
“I think we didn’t get the results we wanted yesterday,” Davis said. “But sometimes results just take some time.”
Davis is a good example of that. The left fielder was batting .221 with three homers at the end of April, but he has hit 11 home runs in May, most in the majors this month. It’s also the most homers by an A’s player in a month since Jason Giambi had 13 in September 2000.
“Eleven, that’s a good month,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I did that one year.”
“I told (Davis) when he came in (to the dugout), I wasn’t surprised at all,” catcher Josh Phegley said. “He’s due for a homer a game, it feels like.”
Danny Valencia and Billy Butler also homered for the A’s, with Butler hitting his first of the season. It snapped a homerless streak of 94 at-bats for the designated hitter and a 29-game drought that was the longest of his career to start a season.
Butler also had a key hit in the sixth, a two-run single that broke a 3-3 tie. The A’s scored five runs in the sixth and four in the seventh. It was just the third multi-hit game this season for Butler, who started the day batting .200 and admittedly has had difficulty adjusting to a platoon role this season.
(We) just kind of talked about our identity as a team. The veterans kind of talked a little bit and they just reminded us that we should believe in ourselves, and just know that guys are going to get the job done.
A’s left fielder Khris Davis, on a team meeting Friday
“It was great,” Davis said. “Just the teammate he is, he’s that guy that we need to believe in, and we need him. Honestly, we need him. That was good to see.”
Seven A’s players had multi-hit games, with Valencia and Phegley – in his first game back from a knee strain – collecting three hits each. Jesse Hahn (2-2) allowed three runs in six innings to record just the third win by an A’s starter other than Rich Hill in the last 33 games.
Hahn, the beneficiary of the offense, said he hoped Saturday’s game could be “the win that’s going to kind of take off our season for us.” Melvin said the game was a blueprint for how the A’s must play to win consistently.
“We’ve got some guys in the middle of the order who can hit some homers, but if we’re going to be successful, it has to be contributions like it was today,” Melvin said. “We’re not going to score 12 every day, but we need everybody in our lineup.”