Oakland A's

Athletics’ Matt Chapman working out of early-season struggles at the plate

The Oakland Athletics won a close game on Thursday against the Rays in Tampa Bay, 3-2, and third baseman Matt Chapman played hero for the day.

And how often have we said that about Chapman this season? Not often. The former All-Star and Gold Glove winner for Oakland entered the game hitting just .169 on the campaign.

He had two hits on Thursday, however, including a home run to left field. His other knock was lasered to the opposite field over the right fielder’s head, allowing infielder Jed Lowrie to score the winning run in the ninth inning. The victory gave the Athletics a split of the four-game set, and Oakland hasn’t lost any of its last six series, thanks to its recent 13-game winning streak.

But back to Chapman. The A’s need him to play like himself, and Thursday’s show definitely qualified. Here’s his home run, courtesy of the Oakland Athletics’ Twitter account.

That’s gotta feel good for Chapman. It’s a step toward getting off “the Interstate,” AKA having a batting average that doesn’t start with the number “1.”

He apparently had so much fun, he thought he’d knock in the winning run, as noted earlier. Here’s some actual video evidence.

Now that was impressive. That ball was hit hard to the opposite field. It’s doubly impressive after his home run — which was also a line shot — was pulled to left field.

Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt struck out nine and closer Lou Trivino finished the job for the win, and all is well after a very close series with the Rays. Only one game was settled by more than one run, a 2-0 loss by the A’s on Wednesday.

And while Chapman took a big step toward being himself again, he still has a lot of work to do. Luckily for him, he has plenty of time — and talent. Chapman and the Athletics will be back in action on Friday, starting a three-game series against the Orioles in Oakland.

(Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

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