Seth Brown has become an unexpected power source for the Oakland Athletics, who aim for a sweep of the three-game series against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
The 28-year-old outfielder has homered in consecutive games, including a two-run shot in Saturday’s 6-3 victory. Brown has five homers and 12 RBIs for Oakland, which has won five of its past seven games.
Brown appeared in 33 games for the Athletics in 2019-20, but he has strengthened his case to stick in the majors this weekend. He recorded his first career walk-off homer in Friday’s 2-1 win before driving in three runs the following day.
“Brownie has been such a hard worker who played a lot of minor league games and had a lot of success,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Finally gets a big league job a couple of years ago and then has to go back to the grind. There are certain guys you have more feelings for with the work they’ve put in.”
Sunday’s series finale figures to be another close matchup. Oakland leads the season series 4-2, but five of the games have been decided by two runs or fewer.
Tampa Bay left-hander Shane McClanahan (0-0, 2.25 ERA) continued to impress in his second career start on Tuesday. He struck out five batters over four innings in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels.
The 24-year-old made his regular-season debut against Oakland on April 29 at Tropicana Field and allowed two runs over four innings.
The Rays are managing McClanahan’s workload and have monitored his pitch count in his first two outings.
“I’d love to have him pitch longer, but we’re gonna try to be very wise with our decisions and his buildup,” manager Kevin Cash said. “How can you not want the guy to continue pitching? It’s just electric stuff.”
Oakland will turn to left-hander Cole Irvin (3-3, 3.09), who has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past four starts. He is 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA over that span.
The 27-year-old owns a 34-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first six starts, covering 35 innings. He allowed one run on three hits over eight innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Toronto.
Irvin is making his second career appearance against Tampa Bay. He yielded two runs and struck out eight over six innings in a 2-0 loss at Tropicana Field on April 28.
The Rays have dropped two in a row following a five-game winning streak and could be without center fielder Kevin Kiermaier on Sunday. Kiermaier left Saturday’s contest in the second inning after a stolen base attempt and was diagnosed with a left wrist sprain.
While Kiermaier is listed as day-to-day, catcher Francisco Mejia was placed on the 10-day injured list with discomfort in his ribcage area.
Mejia was batting .300 with one home run and six RBIs, but the Rays are optimistic that he’ll return within the next two weeks. Mike Zunino will receive most of the starts at catcher ahead of Kevan Smith, who was called up from the taxi squad on Friday.
–Field Level Media