OAKLAND — Adam Dunn is in a pennant race at last, and what an impression he made on his new team as the September stretch run began.
Dunn provided instant pop for the struggling A’s, hitting a towering, two-run homer in his debut at-bat for Oakland to highlight a 6-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday in a matchup of playoff contenders.
“I can speak pretty passionately about it, these chances don’t come around very often, especially for some of us,” said the 34-year-old Dunn, who has never played in the postseason. “We’re going to take full advantage.”
Acquired a day earlier in a trade with the Chicago White Sox, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Dunn immediately became an imposing presence in the middle of Oakland’s order. Dunn is the 12th player in Oakland history to homer in his first at-bat with the team.
A 14th-year major leaguer, Dunn homered during a five-run first inning. His drive was a welcome sight for a team that just got swept in a four-game series by the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels and was shut out for 29 consecutive innings.
“That’s the most excited, anxious, probably call it a little nervous, that I’ve been in a long time,” said Dunn, who was thrown off by the celebratory tunnel formed by teammates in the dugout.
The A’s broke loose a day after manager Bob Melvin let them have it in a closed-door team meeting. He called his team’s play “embarrassing” and “pathetic” after the A’s totaled just four runs in the sweep at Anaheim.
“They ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and the game was over,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It wasn’t our day.”
Dunn went 2 for 3 batting cleanup as the designated hitter. He provided a nice lift for an Oakland offense that has struggled since dealing Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester on July 31.
With 461 career home runs, Dunn tied Red Sox star David Ortiz for 35th place on the all-time list.
Dunn quickly staked Jason Hammel (2-5) to a lead. Hammel also started the season in Chicago, and was traded by the Cubs in July.
“It had a little bit of a storybook-type theme,” Melvin said of Dunn’s debut. “We’ve really been lacking early energy, runs, he comes up to the plate and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Boy, wouldn’t it be great?’ And he delivers. You got goosebumps. It was awesome.”
Hammel allowed three hits and struck out five in eight innings to end a three-start winless stretch. It was just his second win since joining the A’s from the Cubs on July 4.
Another recent acquisition, Geovany Soto, added a two-run single with two outs in the first that chased Chris Young (12-7) for the shortest start of his career.
A sellout crowd of 36,067 saw the A’s win after a stretch in which they lost five of six.
“That’s the best crowd I’ve ever played with,” Dunn said. “I’m serious. It’s unbelievable. If it’s like that every night here, it’s going to be a fun little ride.”
Brad Miller homered leading off the sixth for Seattle, which came into the series opener as the American League’s top road team.
Robinson Cano’s 21-game hitting streak against the A’s ended. It dated to Sept. 22, 2012.