OAKLAND -- The A's powered their way to a second straight win Sunday, counting off five home runs, including two from newcomer Jake Smolinski, to beat the Twins by a 14-1 margin and secure their first series victory out of the All-Star break.
"We'll take a series win whenever we can get one," said catcher Josh Phegley, who was responsible for the first home run of the day. "We've been a good team all year, and things just haven't gone our way, so I feel like if we can get some luck on our side in the second half … we've got two of three on our side so far, so hopefully we can keep that going."
By mere percentage points, the A's moved out of the cellar and ahead of the Mariners in the American League West with the win, improving to 43-51 -- including 29-21 since the conclusion of play on May 22.
Their improved play, coupled with continued parity within their division, has perhaps stalled any expected moves ahead of the impending non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. And performances like the one seen Sunday offer the A's reminders of the team they expected to be.
There was Billy Butler, launching his second home run in as many days to center field, showcasing the kind of right-handed power that the A's believed worthy of a three-year, $30 million deal.
For Butler, it was his fourth home run in his last 15 games and ninth overall, matching his 2014 total. He tallied 15 in 2013, and 29 in 2012.
"I'm just trying to get back to who Billy Butler is," Butler said. "That's what I've done my whole career. That's the type of hitter I am. I've always hit the ball up the middle. Maybe just getting pitched in so much, sometimes you over-compensate or make adjustments and get a little jumpy in. They're still pitching me in, I'm just trying not to focus my bat path somewhere else and stay through it more."
"Billy's starting to swing it a lot better here recently, hitting the ball out to the big part of the park," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "and certainly we felt like we have the guys to be able to be consistent against lefties."
The A's entered the day 6-17 when their opponent starts a left-hander. This trend was one of the many reasons that led them to bring in Smolinski on a waiver claim last month. The right-handed batter, who enjoyed his first career multi-homer game on Sunday, is 5-for-9 in four games since his callup.
"Obviously, everybody wants to help contribute and I'm just trying to do my part right now," Smolinski said, "and hopefully we'll get it rolling."
"He's got some power," Melvin said. "We expect him to be productive for us, especially against lefties, and he was today."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.