'Premier guy' Healy continues hot streak with two homers vs Yankees

'Premier guy' Healy continues hot streak with two homers vs Yankees

OAKLAND — Nothing about Ryon Healy’s pregame demeanor suggested he was in for a big afternoon.

The A’s young slugger described himself as especially “grumpy” while taking his morning swings in the batting cage with assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen.

A few hours later, Healy was in a much cheerier mood while discussing his third multi-homer game of June. That headlined Oakland’s 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on a sun-drenched afternoon at the Coliseum.

“Marcus, on the walk back up (to the clubhouse afterward) he was laughing saying, ‘All that fuss you did in the cage and you go out and have a day like that?’ Healy explained. “I said, ‘I’ve got to get it out of my system. I’d rather do it before the game than during it.’”

Healy’s 16th and 17th homers helped propel the A’s to their third consecutive win over the Yankees. They can finish off a four-game sweep Sunday, but they’ve already won the season series for the fourth time in the past five years against New York.

This weekend also continues a season-long pattern for the A’s:

Dominance on their home field (a 21-13 record) coupled with their extreme struggles on the road, where they are 9-25.

One couldn’t blame the A’s for feeling like this weekend’s series is being played on the road. They’ve drawn crowds of 30,000-plus each of the past two games, but a large portion in the stands is wearing Yankee pinstripes. And much like a May series in which the A’s took three of four from Boston before a heavy Red Sox fan contingent, playing well in this series has to be extra gratifying.

In fairness, the home fans are making a lot of noise this weekend too, and the A’s are giving them lots of motivation.

Besides the big days from Healy and leadoff man Matt Joyce, who homered and reached base five times, Oakland’s pitching held the Yankees to five hits. Jesse Hahn (3-4) gave up just three hits over five innings, but he ran his pitch count to 105, leaving a lot of work for a bullpen that was short-handed.

Liam Hendriks, Josh Smith, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle combined for four scoreless innings, six strikeouts and no walks. Smith, a right-hander who usually has been called upon for mop-up duty, earned praise from manager Bob Melvin for his work in a 1-2-3 seventh.

“It was awesome to see the way we pieced it together today and have each guy come in and feed off the guy’s performance before,” Doolittle said of the relief corps. “There’s a lot of confidence for us down there.”

Healy continues to impress in his first full major league season, to the point where Doolittle claimed “you could put him in the All-Star conversation.” It’s not so far-fetched.

Riding a 21-for-56 stretch over his past 14 games, Healy has boosted his overall average to .288. He’s tied Yonder Alonso and Khris Davis for the team home run lead at 17, and his 42 RBI are just one behind Davis.

“He went through a considerable struggle at one point in time this year too, and he made the adjustment,” Melvin said. “That’s what the really good hitters do. … He’s a premier guy.”

Earlier this season, Healy said he hadn’t found his true comfort zone at the plate despite compiling numbers that would suggest otherwise. He maintains that position now, which could explain the batting cage grumpiness.

“I still think it’s getting there,” Healy said. “I’m not satisfied with the consistency of it. There are things I’m not doing well enough on a day-to-day basis.”

The things he’s doing right now suit the A’s just fine.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

A new team believes in Stephen Vogt.

The former A's catcher, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The A's announced the transaction shortly before their game against the White Sox.

News of the Brewers making the waiver claim was first reported by ESPN.

The Brewers were the only team to place a waiver claim on Vogt, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogt, a clubhouse leader and one of the longest tenured A's, hit just .217 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games this season.