Five home runs. Back-to-back twice.
The Oakland Athletics put on quite the power display in beating the San Diego Padres 12-4 on Wednesday.
Light-hitting Franklin Barreto got the barrage started when he connected for a 424-foot Authentic Logan Paulsen Jersey , three-run home run in the second inning off rookie lefty Joey Lucchesi, who was returning from more than a month on the disabled list. Josh Phegley, Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie also went deep for Oakland.
”This team’s got a lot of power,” Lowrie said. ”Continue to put quality at-bats together, that’s when this game starts to get fun.”
The A’s hit seven homers in sweeping the two-game series. Stephen Piscotty tied Tuesday night’s game with a homer with two outs in the ninth off Brad Hand and Lowie hit a two-run shot with two outs in the 10th for a 4-2 victory.
”We have it in us, that’s for sure,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”The ball carries a little better in day games here, similar to our place. After last night, other than the last couple of innings, hits were hard to come by. We started out early, led by Frankie, which was good to see.”
Barreto and Phegley went back-to-back with their first homers of the season in the second inning off left-hander Joey Lucchesi (3-3), who had been on the disabled list for more than a month. Barreto, hitting .071 coming in and batting seventh, homered into Oakland’s bullpen well beyond the fence in center field on a full-count pitch. Phegley homered off the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left field corner on a 1-1 pitch. Lucchesi hit Olson with a pitch opening the inning and then walked Piscotty ahead of Barreto’s homer.
Robbie Erlin got the last out of the second before allowing consecutive homers to Canha and Olson in the third. It was Canha’s ninth and Olson’s 15th. Phegley added a sacrifice fly.
Lowrie connected off Phil Hughes in the eighth, his 11th.
Frankie Montas (4-1) benefited from the long balls as he threw 6 2-3 strong innings. He held the Padres to one run and five hits, struck out six and walked three. He allowed Cory Spangenberg’s RBI single in the third.
”It’s always good getting support from the guys, especially early in the game,” he said. ”I just tried to keep myself in the game.”
Montas was the only Oakland player in the starting lineup who didn’t have a hit. Melvin said he wouldn’t have minded if his pitcher went 0 for 4, because that would mean he went deep into the game. He went 0 for 3.
”Honestly, I wanted to hit the ball really bad, but I was not about hitting the ball because the guys were actually doing it for me,” Montas said. ”So I was just going to do my job pitching.”
Lucchesi went just 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and three hits.
”The first inning I felt OK and then I guess I felt a little bit off, maybe a little rusty,” said Lucchesi, who hadn’t pitched since May 14 due to a strained right hip. ”I couldn’t get my offspeed to work. I felt like I was doing something weird with my arm. I just didn’t have it.”
Manager Andy Green thought Lucchesi looked sharp in the first. ”His stuff kind of fell off somewhat rapidly today,” Green said. ”This was a tough return for him, but he’s going to bounce back from it and be just fine.”
Trailing 10-1, the Padres had infielder Cory Spangenberg pitch the ninth. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in his second appearance of the season.
”You’ve got to preserve bullpen arms,” Green said Authentic Brandon Parker Jersey , adding that it made no sense to use a reliever such as Matt Strahm just to try to hold the game at 10-1. ”So we were to Cory. At that point in time you get what you get and he got us through.”
San Diego’s Christian Villanueva homered in the ninth, his 16th.
Padres: Placed RHP Bryan Mitchell on the 10-day disabled list with an impingement in his right elbow to make room for Lucchesi on the 25-man roster. Mitchell (0-3, 7.08 ERA) hasn’t pitched since June 5. Mitchell has been disappointing since being acquired from the New York Yankees along with third baseman Chase Headley. The Padres wanted Mitchell so badly they were willing to take on Headley’s $13 million salary, but the deal has backfired. Headley was released on May 19 and Mitchell was demoted from the rotation to the bullpen.
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt (0-2, 2.45) is scheduled to start Thursday night’s opener of a four-game series at the Chicago White Sox, who counter with RHP Lucas Giolito (4-7, 7.19).
Padres: RHP Tyson Ross (5-4, 3.51) is set to start the opener of a four-game series Thursday night at San Francisco, opposite LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 4.67).
In the topsy-turvy NFC playoffs, only the Falcons return from last year, and they sneaked in as the sixth and final team. They narrowly avoided the same fate as the Cowboys, Seahawks, Packers, Giants and Lions – all sitting this one out.
The top five seeds are newcomers, led by the Eagles. They are going with a backup quarterback and are making their first trip to the postseason party since 2013. The Vikings are back after a year away, hoping to become the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in its home stadium .
The five new teams went a combined 32-48 in 2016 but 59-21 this season, providing hope to all those franchises and fans who are already preparing for free agency and the draft.
The field features just two Super Bowl winners, the Rams at the turn of the century when they were based in St. Louis, and the Saints in 2010, when they upset the Colts and Peyton Manning.
The Rams, in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, host the Falcons on Saturday in the showcase of wild-card weekend. The Saints, who ended a four-year playoff drought, host the Panthers on Sunday.
Strength and weakness of each team:
1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-3). No Lombardis: lost Super Bowl 15 to Oakland in 1981 and Super Bowl 39 to New England in 2005.
Hope: The Eagles have the NFL’s third-ranked rushing offense with three productive backs: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement. They’ll have to rely on them more to take pressure off QB Nick Foles and a passing attack that has struggled since second-year sensation Carson Wentz tore his left ACL in December, a major blow to the Eagles’ bounce-back season .
Nope: Foles isn’t Wentz, who was a leading MVP candidate when he got hurt. But the offense still has plenty of pop and talent, and Foles has the ability to get on a roll. He needs to develop more chemistry with receivers during the bye, be more consistent and avoid mistakes. Otherwise, the Eagles could fall into the trap that befell the Cowboys last year when Dallas became the first No. 1 seed not to reach the Super Bowl since 2013.
The Dope: ”We’ve got some good work the last couple of weeks with Nick, and we’ll go back and evaluate all of that. We have to get better in the run game. That helps any quarterback obviously Authentic Nick Nelson Jersey , so we have to get better there. Then just taking a look at what his strengths are, strengths and weaknesses. Everything at this time of the year now becomes magnified even more going into the postseason.” – coach Doug Pederson.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-3). No Lombardis: Lost Super Bowl 4 to Kansas City in 1970, Super Bowl 8 to Miami in 1974, Super Bowl 9 to Pittsburgh in 1975 and Super Bowl 11 to Oakland in 1977.
Hope: The defense , with all due respect to QB Case Keenum and the job he’s done. The Vikings ranked second in the league in both fewest rushing yards and fewest passing yards allowed, so there’s not really a one preferred way to attack them. No team gave up fewer points, either. With Pro Bowl picks at each of the three position groups yet a selfless attitude that’s kept individual players from chasing splashy plays or padding statistics at the expense of the scheme, coach Mike Zimmer’s unit will be a challenge for any opposing QB, especially in Minnesota at raucous U.S. Bank Stadium.
Nope: There aren’t many culprits, but Kai Forbath will certainly be a person of interest. Vikings fans still wince thinking about stunningly missed field goals by Gary Anderson (1998) and Blair Walsh (2015) that cost their team seemingly certain postseason victories. Forbath has been better than his predecessor Walsh, but he has missed eight extra points in 23 games with the Vikings. He also missed five of 15 field goals over the last seven games of this season.
The Dope: ”Guys have to understand that you have an opportunity here to do some great things and you have to take advantage of that opportunity. If you don’t, you’ll probably regret it for the rest of your life.” – DE Brian Robison.
3. LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-5). Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 34, beat Tennessee 23-16 on Jan. 30, 2000, while based in St. Louis.
Hope: The NFL’s most surprising comeback story shows few signs of ending prematurely. L.A. has the talent and smarts on both sides of the ball, with the league’s highest-scoring offense led by QB Jared Goff and MVP hopeful RB Todd Gurley. The Wade Phillips-led defense remains a strength with DT Aaron Donald disrupting offenses weekly. Rookie coach Sean McVay has outsmarted his older foes with impressive regularity.
Nope: They can’t act like they’ve been here before, because they haven’t. Only six Rams have any playoff experience whatsoever, easily the fewest in the current field. McVay, Goff, Gurley and Donald have never been under the postseason spotlight, where every mistake is magnified. So the big question is whether they’ll continue to thrive under pressure or crater.
The Dope: ”There is a lot of value in experience. This is a very humbling business. … You try to learn from the experiences that you do have and not try to repeat the same mistakes twice. But I think, for a younger team, we’ve demonstrated a maturity throughout the course of the year.” – McVay, who was born 20 days after the Rams last hosted a playoff game in Southern California on Jan. 4, 1986.
4. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5). Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 44, beat Indianapolis 31-17 on Feb. 7, 2010.
Hope: Although Brees passed for his fewest yards (4,334) since joining the Saints in 2006, he was as efficient as ever, setting a single-season record with his 72 percent completion ra