The Oakland A’s will host the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday afternoon in the second game of a three-game series, and that by itself might have been enough for A’s third baseman Matt Chapman to work his way out of a recent slump.
After all, Chapman has hit Angels pitching quite well this season. After going 1-for-4 with a double Friday in Oakland’s 5-3 win over the Angels, Chapman is hitting .303 (10-for-33) with eight extra-base hits against Los Angeles.
Chapman, though, didn’t want to wait for the Angels to get to town to work his way out of a slump that began as soon as the A’s left Anaheim after a three-game series last week.
In his next six games, Chapman went 3-for-23 with eight strikeouts. So before Thursday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chapman said he tweaked his mechanics so he could let the ball get deeper before deciding whether to swing.
The adjustment paid off immediately, as Chapman finished the Arizona series with a two-homer game, including one that reached the second deck at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.
“That was my main focus all night, trying to be on time,” Chapman said. “It’s funny how when you try to focus on making that little adjustment, good things happen. I felt a lot more comfortable and was able to catch the ball out in front a little more.”
Chris Bassitt (2-0, 2.93 ERA) will start on the mound for Oakland against an Angels team that is falling swiftly out of the playoff picture but still poses a threat from the offensive side. Bassitt has faced the Angels twice this season, going 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA.
In his most recent start against them, he got a victory despite giving up home runs to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
The Angels will start Griffin Canning (0-3, 4.70 ERA), who is looking for his first victory since Aug. 18, 2019.
He has faced the A’s twice this season among his five starts, losing both while yielding seven runs and 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings.
Canning has struggled with his command most of the season, and while he did not walk a batter in either of his past two starts, he was consistently behind in the count and pitching in hitters’ counts. The result: Batters hit .316 (12-for-38) with four homers, two doubles and one triple in those two games.
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons returned to the Angels’ lineup Friday for the first time since he sprained his left ankle on July 27. Simmons’ return will have a domino effect on the lineup. David Fletcher, who has started every game this season, moves to second base, which moves Tommy La Stella from second base to share time at first base with Albert Pujols or at designated hitter with Shohei Ohtani.
La Stella has been one of the Angels’ hottest batters lately, having hit safely in 12 of his past 14 starts, despite going 0-for-3 with two walks on Friday as the DH.
“What he’s doing right now is not a huge surprise to me,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who managed the Cubs when La Stella played in Chicago from 2015-18. “I’ve seen it. The at-bats are as good as you’ve seen.”
La Stella is hitting .274 with an .850 OPS and 11 extra-base hits (three homers, eight doubles) this season.
–Field Level Media