OAKLAND — Matt Chapman got the pie in the face Saturday that typically would be reserved for walk-off hero Khris Davis.
In the winning clubhouse afterward, the A’s rookie third baseman proudly wore a T-shirt that Yonder Alonso had made up for everyone. In neon lettering, like you might find in the window of a barber shop, the shirt read: “Oakland, Walk-offs Welcome!”
“I thought it was appropriate to wear for this,” Chapman told the gathered media.
Chapman soaked up the atmosphere of the A’s wild 5-3 victory over Cleveland, which came courtesy of Davis blasting a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off the Indians’ Bryan Shaw.
But Chapman was as responsible as anyone for Oakland’s second win in as many nights against the defending American League champs. While his teammates were befuddled all night by right-hander Corey Kluber, Chapman blasted two homers off the 2014 Cy Young winner — the first two homers of Chapman’s big league career.
He also doubled to complete his 3-for-3 night. Combined with his triple the night before, Chapman is showing major signs of turning the corner from an awful offensive slump since returning from a knee infection that briefly hospitalized him.
He was in a 3-for-27 rut coming into Saturday.
“You wouldn’t know if he was 10-for-10 or 0-for-50, which tells a lot about him,” A’s starter Paul Blackburn said.
Chapman’s own comments on the biggest night of his brief major league career lends some insight into the mature mindset he brings to the ballpark.
“Do I think tonight means I’m just gonna be perfectly fine and never have any struggles again? No,” Chapman said. “But it’s obviously nice to have some sort of success and know you can compete at this level, and that you are good enough to do it. If anything, you just use it as motivation to keep working hard.”
Chapman drilled a 2-1 cutter from Kluber over the wall in left-center for his first homer in the third. Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Chapman sensed that Kluber might try to blow a first-pitch fastball by him. He got a 92 mile-per-hour two-seamer and belted a game-tying blast 455 feet, the ball striking off the base of a luxury suite in dead center.
For that, Chapman received a whipped cream pie in the face from Josh Phegley and two buckets of water over his head from Ryon Healy and Bruce Maxwell as he conducted a TV interview that on many nights would have belonged to Davis.
“He deserved it,” Davis said. “There’s many more to come where he’s going. It won’t be the last.”