OAKLAND — Running at first base, Trevor Plouffe watched Adam Rosales’ home run play out right in front of him Tuesday night.
Then Plouffe shifted his attention to what was happening behind him.
Rosales is famous for his all-out sprint around the bases after a homer, so as Plouffe leisurely circled the bases on the game-tying two-run blast, he noticed his teammate hot on his trail.
“All of a sudden l’m looking back and he’s sprinting,” Plouffe said. “I tried to hold him up but there was no stopping that guy.”
Rosales isn’t the first guy you'd predict to ignite a struggling offense against Rangers ace Yu Darvish. But with one swing at a 3-1 slider in the sixth, he sent a jolt of energy through the A’s dugout that powered a 4-2 victory and snapped Oakland’s four-game losing streak.
The A’s, trailing 2-0 before the homer, scored all four of their runs in that sixth-inning rally.
“Up to that point, we weren’t even getting good swings let alone driving balls,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Now all of a sudden, it’s 2-2 and momentum’s in our dugout.”
For Rosales, the No. 9 hitter, it was his first homer of 2017 and his first hit in eight at-bats against right-handers this season.
He may have been an unlikely candidate to play hero, but there’s no one the A’s needed more to have a big moment. With Marcus Semien likely lost for two months, at least, after having wrist surgery Tuesday, Rosales goes from jack-of-all-trades utility man to everyday shortstop.
One stroke of injury misfortune, and he goes from playing a supporting role to a starring one. It’s not like he carries a heavy burden to be a big run producer. But Tuesday’s game was a nice way for Rosales to assert himself as a contributor to the A’s after signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal in the offseason.
“Marcus is such a huge part of our team,” the 33-year-old Rosales said. “I know he’s gonna be all right, be back soon. (But) that’s why I’m here, right? To fill that role, and I’m going to do my best at it.”
He’ll do it while displaying the passion and zest for the game that’s marked his 10-year career. It’s a style that Plouffe, playing alongside Rosales for the first time, was well aware of even while in the opposing dugout.
“He’s one of those guys I think everybody knows,” Plouffe said. “That’s his M.O., he’s a hustler. He’s always got a smile on his face. He looks like a kid on a sandlot. That’s not a dig at him. That’s a compliment.”
Even Rosales gets a kick out of it when asked about his home run “trot,” during which it looks like someone triggered a fast-forward button somewhere on his body. As he rounded second Tuesday night, he really began gaining ground on Plouffe, who looked over his shoulder twice and gestured for Rosales to slow down.
“Can you imagine if I hit a grand slam?” Rosales wondered aloud. “They always like to joke around with me, tell me to slow down. Obviously my game won’t let me do that.”
For anyone wondering if Rosales might be in danger of actually passing a teammate on the bases — a runner who passes a teammate ahead of him is ruled out — he says not to worry.
“I always keep at least 10 feet,” Rosales said. “I think that’s the buffer zone.”