OAKLAND – Adam Dunn sent a towering fly ball toward right field in his first at-bat Monday as an Athletic.
By the time it cleared the outfield wall, he’d won over his new home fans.
Dunn’s two-run homer off Chris Young sparked a five-run first-inning rally, and the A’s rode that adrenaline rush to a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners in front of a sellout holiday crowd at the Coliseum.
A day after getting swept out of Anaheim by the Angels, and receiving a public tongue-lashing from manager Bob Melvin, the A’s looked like a completely different team. Their five runs in the first was one more than they scored in the entire four-game series against the Angels, and after a dreadful August, the A’s can only hope that turning the calendar to September provides them the fresh start they need.
Sunday’s victory was a good start, and Dunn’s presence was felt immediately. Wearing jersey No. 10, Dunn got a 1-1 pitch from Chris Young low in the zone and skied an arching blast that appeared it might draw rain. It barely cleared the wall, just past the leaping attempt of Endy Chavez, but it made him the 12th player in Oakland history to homer in his first at-bat with the A’s, the first since Josh Willingham did it in April 2011.
The A’s collected just 21 hits over four games at Angel Stadium. They notched 11 on Monday and chased Young (12-7) after just two-thirds of an inning.
Oakland climbed back to within 4 ½ games of the idle Angels.
Starting pitching report
While the most encouraging aspect of the afternoon had to be the offense’s signs of life, Jason Hammel starred on the mound.
Handed the early lead, Hammel (2-5) dominated the Mariners over eight innings, allowing just three hits, striking out five and walking one. His only blemish was a home run by Brad Miller in the sixth.
That makes back-to-back strong starts from Hammel, quite the bounce-back for a pitcher whose rotation spot seemed in jeopardy following an atrocious start at Atlanta. He’s now allowed a total of two runs and six hits over 15 innings in his past two outings. Give an assist to recently acquired A’s catcher Geovany Soto, who has been behind the plate for each of Hammel’s past two starts and is obviously pressing the right buttons.
Eric O’Flaherty handled a smooth ninth inning.
At the plate
Dunn’s presence – and early contribution – seemed to have a trickle-down effect on his new teammates. Jed Lowrie singled in his first at-bat since coming off the D.L. Soto had a two-run single in the first and Eric Sogard added an RBI single of his own as the A’s sent 10 men to the plate that inning.
Josh Reddick, drawing a start as the No. 2 hitter, doubled in the first, singled and also walked. Lowrie wound up with two hits and Josh Donaldson had an RBI double in the sixth for insurance.
In the field
Hammel got an early lift in the top of the first as center fielder Sam Fuld made a terrific sliding catch to rob Dustin Ackley and first basemn Stephen Vogt followed wit ha diving stop of Robinson Cano’s hard grounder for the third out.
A sellout crowd of 36,067 came out for the holiday matinee, many showing up early for the Coco Crisp jersey give-away.
Lefty James Paxton (4-1, 1.83) missed much of this season with a back injury, but he’s back and throwing well for the Mariners. He’ll oppose Sonny Gray (13-7, 3.03) in a 7:05 p.m. game Tuesday.