OAKLAND – Adam Dunn spent Monday morning getting to know his new A’s teammates, but apparently they didn’t brief him on home run etiquette.
After Dunn went deep in his first at-bat with Oakland, he got back to the dugout and was a bit perplexed when his teammates formed the Home Run Tunnel.
“It threw me off a little. I was not sure what to do,” Dunn said afterward. “I'm pretty smart. I figured it out.”
The rest of the afternoon went smooth for Dunn, and the A’s, in a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. His two-run homer over the right-field wall in the first off Chris Young seemed to unlock the A’s offensively.
Jed Lowrie’s single was sandwiched around walks by Brandon Moss and Stephen Vogt. Geovany Soto delivered a two-run single to left, and Eric Sogard followed with another RBI single. Those types of chain-reaction rallies, where one positive at-bat seems to lead to another one, were staples of the A’s throughout much of the season. But they were largely absent in August.
The five-run rally got the sellout crowd at the Coliseum into the game immediately. Manager Bob Melvin noticed fans lining up to get inside the parking lot when he first arrived in the early morning – a Coco Crisp jersey giveaway, for one, was a big attraction. Dunn’s addition, in a Sunday trade with the Chicago White Sox, added to the anticipation of Monday’s game.
“It had a little bit of a storybook-type of thing to it,” Melvin said. “We’ve really been lacking early in games, energy, runs. He comes up to the plate and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Boy, wouldn’t it be something?’ And he delivers.
“You got goose-bumps. It was awesome.”
Dunn might be a 14-year veteran, but he’s got the enthusiasm of a rookie right now after being traded from the rebuilding White Sox to the contending A’s. He’s never played in the postseason, and he’s jazzed about the chance to give the A’s a final-month push.
The A’s moved within 4 ½ games of the A.L. West-leading Los Angeles Angels, but given that deficit, like it or not, the wild-card race becomes just as relevant for the A’s. They stayed four games ahead of Detroit for the top wild-card spot.
The sold-out Coliseum crowd really made an impact on Dunn, who has played for four previous teams in his big league career and is a good judge of ballpark atmosphere.
“That's the best crowd I've ever ... played with,” Dunn said. “I'm serious. It's unbelievable. If it's like that every night here, it's going to be a fun little ride. Every single pitch it seemed like the fans were into it. I've been in some pretty good places. It was just awesome.”
Throughout a 12-17 August, it wasn’t just the offense that malfunctioned for Oakland. At times it was poor pitching and defensive lapses, and that’s also why Melvin had to be savoring Monday’s victory just a day after he lit into his team in a closed-door meeting.
Jason Hammel was terrific in throwing a season-high eight innings and giving up just three hits. The defense also shined early, with center fielder Sam Fuld making a great sliding catch and first baseman Stephen Vogt making a nice play to stop Robinson Cano’s hard smash.
Now, the A’s just need to incorporate Dunn gracefully into the ways of the Home Run Tunnel. He stands 6-foot-6, which isn’t very Tunnel-friendly.
“We’re gonna have to get Billy (Burns) and some of these guys a stepping stool,” shortstop Jed Lowrie joked.
If Home Run Tunnels keep getting formed for Dunn, consider it a good problem for the A’s to have to solve.