Ben Revere needed five years to hit his first home run in the major leagues. He entered Tuesday’s game at the Oakland Coliseum with six in his career. So, when the Angels left fielder snuck one over the right-field wall, it became clear that airborne objects were traveling well in the Bay Area — and that luck might be on the Angels’ side for the night.
In a game that featured five home runs, none more improbable than Revere’s, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound outfielder and the Angels raced past the Athletics, 7-3.
“I’m a wimp,” Revere said. “I thought that was going to hit the fence.”
Oakland starter Jharel Cotton struck out the side in his first inning, but around it permitted the 596th homer of Albert Pujols’ career, a solo shot. Pujols clobbered a changeup that didn’t much move.
Alex Meyer, the Angels’ starter, quickly ceded the lead in the Athletics’ half of the first. He issued a leadoff walk to Rajai Davis and allowed him to steal second and third. After a strikeout and a lineout, Meyer pumped a fastball down the middle to Yonder Alonso, who walloped it to left-center for a two-run home run. The pitch traveled 98 mph, but nowhere near where Meyer intended.
Cotton again permitted a two-out homer in the second inning, this time to Revere, who sprinted out of the box on his drive. He thought for sure the ball would pound the wall and he’d have a double, maybe a triple if he could get his blood pumping through the cold.
As he rounded first, he saw Athletics right fielder Matt Joyce turn his back, and he knew he had hit it out. As he rounded second, he saw his teammates smiling wide in the dugout.
For Revere, recent days have represented a reprieve after his awful start to 2017. He has four extra-base hits in three games, doubling his total from his first 19 games of the season. He attributed the run to randomness, and to the regularity of his playing time while Mike Trout is out with a tight hamstring.
“It’s all about the rhythm,” Revere said.
Soon, when Trout’s back, he’ll go back to a reserve role, as the Angels attempt to provide Cameron Maybin sufficient playing time to find his stroke. Revere will have this stretch, and this night, to build upon.
“I’m not known for my home runs,” he said later, as Trout shouted encouragement behind him in the clubhouse. “I’m probably gonna get tested tomorrow. That’s the way it goes. Usually, when I hit a home run, I get tested.”
Cliff Pennington and Martin Maldonado followed Revere’s surprise shot with consecutive singles. Yunel Escobar then timed a 2-and-2 changeup at his knees for a three-run home run.
With that homer, his fifth of 2017, Escobar matched his total from the 2016 season. One inning later, he drove in the Angels’ final run of the night, after Cameron Maybin doubled and Revere and Pennington each singled. Maldonado laid down a bunt to make Escobar’s run-scoring groundout possible.
Meyer worked around a walk in the second, two walks and a double in the third, and a double in the fourth. He carried a nearly even ratio of balls to strikes into the fourth, and did not set down the Athletics in order until the fifth.
Scioscia stuck with Meyer into the sixth, until he allowed another homer to Alonso and walked Matt Joyce. In his career-high-tying 5 1/3 innings, Meyer struck out seven and walked five in his 5 1/3 innings. He did not approach dominance, but lasting that long marked progress considering his previous starts this season, in the majors and in triple-A.
“When you look at the bottom line, at least getting us to 16 outs while being a bit erratic, that’s a great outing for him,” Scioscia said.
Blake Parker finished off the sixth and punctuated the seventh with a strikeout of Khris Davis. Next, Scioscia called upon left-hander Jose Alvarez, who retired Alonso, allowed two singles, and escaped the trouble.
Rookie right-hander Keynan Middleton warmed throughout the eighth and entered for the ninth. When he walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, closer Bud Norris began to warm in the Angels’ bullpen. When Middleton threw two more balls to Rajai Davis, pitching coach Charles Nagy visited the mound. Middleton soon walked Davis on five pitches and received a visit from his infield teammates to stall while Norris readied to enter.
He first faced Jed Lowrie, Monday’s 11th-inning hero. Lowrie laced Norris’ fourth pitch up the middle, directly to Angels second baseman Cliff Pennington, who doubled off Oakland’s lead runner.
Two pitches later, Norris had secured the save, and the Angels (17-18) the four-run victory. They had not won a game by more than three runs since April 7, the fifth day of this season.
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons returned to the Angels’ lineup after sustaining bruises on his right hand and left thumb on a hit-by-pitch Monday night. Discoloration remained on the thumb, but he said he felt good enough to swing capably. He noted it would not affect his throwing.
“But can I use it as an excuse if I make a bad throw?” he asked, laughing.
In fact, his throwing saved him from committing an error in the third inning, when Davis grounded a ball to him and he fumbled the pick-up. Davis is exceptionally fast, but Simmons’ all-out throw after his recovery beat Davis to the base by a millisecond.
The Angels remain six games behind the American League West lead, but at least for one night, they benefitted on the margins.
“Hopefully this starts a chain,” Revere said, “and we can get thing rolling and catch up to the Houston Astros.”