Day after players-only meeting, club posts 17 hits in win over Tigers
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- Khris Davis said the A's held a players-only meeting before Friday's game against the Tigers to determine what their identity would be for the rest of the year. They didn't see the results that night, but, as he pointed out, "sometimes results take time."
Luckily for Oakland, it didn't take too much time.
Oakland's offense broke out Saturday in a 12-3 win over Detroit, setting a season-high in runs, hits (17) and margin of victory. Davis smashed a three-run home run in the seventh, Billy Butler hit his first homer of the year and had the go-ahead two-run single in the sixth, and Danny Valencia launched a 457-foot home run to center. It was a total team effort, one the A's, who were averaging 2.9 runs per game and hit .179 over their previous eight games, desperately needed.
"The veterans talked to us a little bit and reminded us that we should believe in ourselves," Davis said. "And to just know the guys are going to get the job done."
Davis said veterans ranging from Rich Hill to Ryan Madson to Coco Crisp took turns addressing the team in the meeting. And Saturday it was another veteran, Butler, who heeded the message, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. He put the A's on the board in the second inning with a solo homer, and his go-ahead single in the sixth came only a half-inning after the Tigers had tied the game at 3.
"I mean, early on he was the offense," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He got us on the board, then [he] got the biggest hit of the game, knocking in a couple [of runs]. Good feeling for him, and for a guy that's not playing as much as he's used to playing, to be able to have this type of game, he's certainly going to go home in a good mood today, as he should."
Butler has been relegated to a platoon role offensively and was mired in a 3-for-22 slump, as well as the longest homerless drought of his career (29 games). He said he believes platoons are especially tough on right-handed hitters, but he has tried to stay as sharp as possible despite inconsistent at-bats, and it paid off Saturday.
"You just have to continue to prepare, wait your turn, and be prepared for it when you get it," Butler said. "It's an adjustment. It's tough to make those types of adjustments, but you have to do the best you can and be a professional."
"Just the being the teammate he is, he's that guy and we need to believe in him," Davis said. "And we need him, we honestly need him. It was great to see."
Davis and the rest of the offense followed suit. Oakland scored five runs in the sixth and tacked on four more in the seventh, including Davis' rocket to left. It was his 14th homer of the season and his league-leading 11th homer in May.
Melvin said he hasn't seen a stretch like Davis' before, but added, "hopefully he's not done."
The A's hope their offense as a whole can carry this momentum. They fell to a season-low nine games below .500 prior to Saturday, and entered tied in last place in the American League West. There have been flashes of success -- they won five of six before losing seven of their last eight games -- and know that, with June approaching, they'll need to establish that lasting identity soon.
"You have to try to sustain these things," Melvin said. "We had a period there where we were swinging the bat well, then we got cold after that, so it shows us again that we have the ability to do it. We need to sustain it a little bit more so than a couple games."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in Oakland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.