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Christian Bethancourt’s journey continues as A’s face Guardians

Sportsnaut
Jun 11, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Christian Bethancourt (23) hits an RBI single during the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Bethancourt is a journeyman catcher/first baseman.

He’s played with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and is currently with the Oakland Athletics. The Panama native signed a minor league deal with the A’s last December. The 30-year-old was added to the major league roster as a substitute player on April 15.

When he got into a game, it was his first major league appearance since 2017.

In Oakland’s 10-5 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Saturday, which snapped a 10-game losing streak, Bethancourt was 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs to raise his batting average to .261.

He’s batting .538 in the first three games of the series (7-for-13), with two home runs, two doubles, four RBIs and four runs, and will look to continue his reign of dominance in the series finale on Sunday.

“He’s got elite power,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “He’s persevered and grinded and earned the opportunity to be here.”

The meager-hitting A’s came alive in Saturday’s game with 13 hits and 10 runs. They hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Seth Brown in the seventh. Sean Murphy and Stephen Vogt also went deep.

Vogt was 1-for-20 on the season heading into Saturday’s game, where he went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.

Left-hander Cole Irvin (2-2, 3.00 ERA) will try to pitch the A’s to a split in the four-game series. He’s 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two career appearances against the Guardians.

He will be opposed by right-hander Cal Quantrill (3-3, 3.56 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two career starts against Oakland.

Manager Terry Francona said that in order for Cleveland to win games, it needs to play “clean.”

The Guardians failed to play “clean” baseball on Saturday. Starter Zach Plesac was cruising with a 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh. After he gave up back-to-back singles, he was relieved by Eli Morgan, who would end up suffering the loss.

After Cristian Pache struck out, Tony Kemp hit a grounder to first baseman Josh Naylor. He fielded the ball, clutched and threw it into left field, which allowed Vogt to score. It could have been a double-play ball, but Cleveland got nothing out of it.

Hot-hitting Bethancourt singled to load the bases. Brown followed with a grand slam to open up a 7-5 lead the A’s never relinquished.

Naylor’s throwing error gave Oakland an extra out and the A’s took advantage of it.

“If you give a team extra opportunities or extra outs, it will come back to bite you,” Francona said.

He said he wanted Naylor to get one out on the play. He could have easily stepped on first.

“He got a little ahead of himself,” the manager said.

On a 2-2 pitch to Brown, Morgan thought he had struck him out on an inside fastball. Home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak called it a ball, much to Morgan’s dismay. Brown homered on the next pitch.

“We want it; they don’t,” Francona said. “We put Eli in a tough predicament, first and third with no outs.

“He elevated a fastball and the kid (Brown) went and got it.”

The A’s scored eight unanswered runs in the game after trailing 5-2.

–Field Level Media