Matt Chapman hopes to see another big crowd in Oakland on Tuesday night, and he would love to treat the fans to some fireworks of his own as he and the Toronto Blue Jays seek an end to their four-game skid when they oppose the Athletics for a second consecutive day.
The series opener drew Oakland’s biggest crowd of the season on Monday — 24,403 — but more were there to see the postgame fireworks than to welcome Chapman back to town.
As part of their offseason fire sale, the A’s dealt Chapman, who spent the first five years of his career in Oakland, to the Blue Jays in March for four prospects, only one of which (reliever Kirby Snead) is currently on the active roster.
Other than home runs hit by Oakland’s Ramon Laureano and Stephen Vogt in the Athletics’ 5-1 win, Chapman received the loudest ovation on Monday before going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
He has never faced Oakland’s scheduled Tuesday starter, Adrian Martinez (1-1, 6.30 ERA).
Chapman spent much of his pregame time Monday imploring his old fans to stick with it, hoping that better days are ahead for a franchise seeking a new stadium.
“I think that the A’s should stay in Oakland,” he said. “I’ve seen this place packed before. They have the fans. I think there’s more that goes into it than just getting people in the stands. I think it’s become a little bit … maybe some people aren’t happy with the front office, whatever it is.
“But I hope that they can get a stadium. They deserve a stadium in Oakland. They deserve a nice stadium that people can come and enjoy baseball at.”
Making his home debut on Tuesday, Martinez hopes to be part of that future.
The 25-year-old right-hander, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in April in the Sean Manaea trade, looked the part in his May 10 debut, when he threw 5 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 win at Detroit.
He then returned to the minors and couldn’t duplicate the first impression upon his return Thursday in Seattle. Martinez was bombed for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings during an 8-6 loss to the Mariners.
He has neither faced the Blue Jays nor gone head-to-head with any of their hitters.
Whether it was for the fireworks or for Chapman, or a little of both, the big crowd also had a positive impact on the home team in the series opener, according to A’s starting pitcher Cole Irvin.
“The fans tonight, they were absolutely amazing,” he said after an eight-inning, one-run effort. “Electric environment. They were with every pitch. And a lot of the young guys got to experience what this place can be like when it’s sold out. I appreciate everyone coming out.”
On the second night of a seven-game trip, the Blue Jays are expected to start Yusei Kikuchi (3-4, 4.74 ERA).
The 31-year-old left-hander is coming off one of his best outings of the season. In a 4-1 home win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, he went six innings, gave up a run on four hits, struck out eight and walked one.
A former Seattle Mariner, Kikuchi has nine games of starting experience against the A’s, going 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA in those outings.
He went 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA in three starts against the A’s last season despite allowing home runs to Chapman, Matt Olson and Mark Canha, none of whom is still with Oakland.
–Field Level Media