Mike Napoli homers again as Rangers win eighth straight game

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Mike Napoli homered in his fifth straight game this afternoon as the Rangers routed the Tigers 10-4 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The Rangers have now won eight consecutive games and sit at a major-league best 12-2 on the young season.

The Rangers took the Tigers out of this one pretty early, as they knocked right-hander Rick Porcello around for eight runs in the top of the first inning. This included a three-run homer by Josh Hamilton, who went 2-for-5 on the afternoon and is hitting an AL-best .424 (25-for-59) on the year. Porcello was eventually chased from the ballgame after giving up three straight hits to begin the top of the second. He gave up eight earned runs in all, tying a career-high, while the outing was the shortest of his career.

Napoli connected for a solo shot off Daniel Schlereth in the top of the ninth and suddenly Kevin Mench’s franchise record of homers in seven consecutive games is in reach. Most of you know Mench for having an unusually large head, but I know him better as the son of my high school principal. Anyway, Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. are tied for the all-time record with homers in eight consecutive games.

Matt Harrison allowed three runs over 7 2/3 innings in the victory and improved to 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA and 13/4 K/BB ratio over his first three starts. The Rangers will look for their ninth straight win when Neftali Feliz takes on Justin Verlander in the nightcap. Now that’s a fun matchup.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”