Two of baseball’s hottest teams meet in hot Chase Field – its retractable roof now frequently being opened at the start of games in 100-plus degree heat – when the Arizona Diamondbacks host the Oakland Athletics on Monday.
It’s the first of four straight games of an interleague series between two teams with four-game winning streaks, with the first two games in Phoenix and then two in Oakland.
The A’s are riding high after a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants across the Bay Bridge. Oakland came from behind in the ninth inning twice for wins on Friday and Saturday, then romped to a 15-3 win on Sunday.
The A’s hit three home runs in one inning on Sunday, and they’ve scored 38 runs in their last four games.
“For a while we were just doing enough, winning close games, getting big hits and the pitching was ruling the day,” manager Bob Melvin told the San Jose Mercury News. “It seems the bats have woken up some.”
Until a single in his first plate appearance Sunday, Matt Olson’s previous seven hits had all been home runs. He has eight on the season to lead the A’s.
Oakland, the leader in the American League West, is threatening to run away with the division, leading the Astros by 4 1/2 games.
The A’s will send Chris Bassitt, one of their top starting pitchers this season, to the mound to face Arizona on Monday.
Bassitt (2-0, 2.42 ERA) has held opponents to a .198 batting average. He’s pitching at Chase Field and against the Diamondbacks for the first time in his career.
The Diamondbacks’ four-game winning streak has been a product of late-inning run production. A prime example was Eduardo Escobar’s three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the D-backs to a 5-4 comeback win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Escobar had been scuffling with a .167 batting average entering the game before collecting three hits on Sunday. Some extra work leading up to the weekend sweep of the Padres helped him find his swing.
“For me, it’s a little struggle, but still coming to the ballpark and working every day,” Escobar told Fox Sports Arizona. “The only thing I can control is working hard. I can’t control the results, but the results will come.”
Manager Torey Lovullo called Escobar “the heartbeat of this team” and said Escobar’s teammates hurt for him during his struggles at the plate.
“So when he starts to have these little pieces of success, it’s an easy guy to celebrate with,” Lovullo said.
Arizona, once 3-8 and searching for answers, has pulled to .500 and third place in the NL West. They have right-hander Zac Gallen on the mound Monday, looking for his first win in what will be his fifth start of the season.
Gallen has no wins or losses this season. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start this season, and has gone at least six innings in the past three.
He lowered his ERA to its current 2.74 after throwing seven innings and allowing two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks at Colorado on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media