OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem, and then Khris Davis hit his 40th home run to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers 1-0 on Saturday night.
Maxwell dropped to a knee and pressed his cap against his chest just outside Oakland’s dugout during the anthem, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Maxwell’s teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell’s shoulders.
The Athletics released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying they “respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression” and “pride ourselves on being inclusive.”
Davis became the first A’s player to hit 40 home runs in consecutive seasons since Jimmy Foxx (1932-34). He’s the fourth player in franchise history with multiple 40-homer seasons. Foxx (3), Mark McGwire (3) and Jose Canseco (2) are the others.
Davis homered against Miguel Gonzalez (8-12) leading off the second inning as the A’s won their season-high sixth straight game.
Sean Manaea was scratched from his scheduled start because of back tightness, the Oakland Tribune reported. Starting in his place was Raul Alcantara, who gave manager Bob Melvin five scoreless innings of two-hit ball to pick up his first win of the season. Melvin said the club will wait to see how Manaea feels in the coming days before deciding when he will pitch again.
Alcantara (1-1) threw five shutout innings of two-hit ball in which he struck out five and allowed two walks.
The Rangers fell 4½ games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL wild card.
A’s closer Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.
Maxwell kneeled after President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes. Maxwell was active on social media Saturday, criticizing the president and predicting that athletes in other sports will join the protest in response to Trump’s remarks.
“This now has gone from just a BlackLives Matter topic to just complete inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights!” Maxwell wrote.
In a statement, the league said that “Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.”
Rangers: Manager Jeff Banister left the team Saturday morning to be with his ill mother, Verda, in Clear Lake, Texas. Bench coach Steve Buechele will manage the team through Sunday.
RHP Keone Kela (right shoulder soreness) was cleared to pitch for the first time since going on the DL on Aug. 5.
Athletics: OF Chad Pinder was out of the lineup after crashing into the center-field wall Friday.
The A’s are concerned he suffered from whiplash, manager Bob Melvin said.
OF Boog Powell (knee) took batting practice on Saturday but is doubtful for the rest of the Texas series.
Maxwell was out of the lineup and was scheduled to undergo concussion protocol tests on Saturday, Melvin said.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (12-11, 4.70 ERA) is 7-1 with a 3.14 ERA in his last night starts and 6-6 with a 5.03 ERA in 14 starts against Oakland.
Athletics: RHP Jharel Cotton (8-10, 5.81 ERA) is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts against Texas. He missed his last start with a groin strain.