Melvin on bunting: 'Sometimes the right thing to do'
Rangers starter Matt Garza took exception to the A's tactics when they executed a safety squeeze. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- The best way to jumpstart a stagnant offense while getting under the opposing pitcher's skin?
Drop a bunt. Then do it again. And while you're at it draw up a safety squeeze and execute it to perfection.
Or did you not see the A's playing small ball all over Texas starter Matt Garza to the tune of a 4-2 victory Saturday afternoon, and Garza dropping so many f-bombs all over the O.co Coliseum you had to wonder if they'd clog up the sewage pipes.
[Instant Replay: A's hold their ground against Rangers]
"It's kind of no secret that Garza has some trouble throwing to first some times," said A's No. 2 hitter Eric Sogard. "So we wanted to be able to try to take advantage of that."
It started with the A's first hitter, Coco Crisp, exhibiting not only his bunting skills but his oh-so-fast wheels, bunting for a single.
One batter later, Sogard bunted him over to second.
"I put it where I wanted to, got the drag bunt," Sogard said.
Then the A's went the traditional route. Jed Lowrie singed to score Crisp easily and then Yoenis Cespedes took advantage of the national broadcast game by putting on a show and taking Garza deep over the wall in left-center for a two-run home run.
Garza's day was only six pitches old and already the recent trade acquisition from the Chicago Cubs was in a 3-0 hole. It was the first time all season Garza had given up a run in the first inning.
"They showed me how they're going to play, how they're going to attack me," said Garza, whose six-game winning streak over seven starts came to an end.
"That's fine. Next time, I'll be ready. That's it."
Said Sogard: "We ended up scoring three runs that inning so it worked fine."
While the A's got the early jump, the Rangers chipped away, closing to within 3-2 in the fifth inning.
"We're trying to get a guy on (base) early on," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "And then at the end there, we're trying to add on a run, because that's all we had."
As in, Garza settled into a groove, and A's starter Jarrod Parker was tiring, which meant the A's were going to have to turn it over to their bullpen.
"In games like that, adding another run and going from 3-2 to 4-2 feels like more," Melvin added. "So that was the thinking (behind bunting)."
It was in the seventh that Sogard truly irritated Garza.
Alberto Callaso led off with a walk and moved to second on Stephen Vogt's sacrifice bunt. Callaspo went to third on Crisp's single to shallow right, bringing up Sogard. And the sign for the safety squeeze, which worked to perfection when Garza fielded the ball, but not in time to get Callaspo at home, and had to throw to first to get Sogard.
Cameras caught an expletive-filled tirade spilling from Garza's mouth and aimed at Sogard as he jogged back across the diamond to the A's dugout.
"I asked him where was a good place to eat in Oakland," Garza said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
And even when the inning ended, Garza turned to the A's dugout to continue his verbal assault.
Sogard smiled at the recent memory.
"Just kind of heat of the moment, for sure," Sogard said. "Obviously, we scored the run so he's not going to be happy any time (that happens). But it happened so, we're happy about it."
Asked if he could give a G-rated account of Garza's, ahem, speech, Sogard shook his head.
"Uh, I couldn't really make it out exactly," Sogard said. "He was just yelling at me going by. So, part of the game."
Part of a game the A's needed. Badly.