OAKLAND -- Everyone knows Adam Dunn can change a game with one swing. But could one swing by Dunn change the trajectory of a season?
Dunn hit a two-run homer on Monday with his very first swing as a member of the A's, paving the way for a 6-1 win over Seattle and becoming the 12th player in Oakland history to homer in his first at-bat with the club. In the process, he appeared to breathe new life into an offense that has lost its mojo in recent weeks.
"It had a little bit of a storybook type of thing to it," said manager Bob Melvin. "The fans are lined up here at 7:30 this morning, out in full force to start the game. We've really been lacking early in games, energy, runs. He comes up to the plate and you're thinking to yourself, 'Boy, wouldn't it be something?' And he delivers. You got goosebumps."
Dunn's towering shot to right was the first big blow in a five-run first inning, giving the A's a cushion that Jason Hammel protected valiantly in the series opener at the O.co Coliseum.
Hammel tossed eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball, and Oakland led comfortably from start to finish to begin a six-game homestand -- and the final month of the regular season -- on the right foot.
"It's a new month. The other five, they don't matter," said Dunn. "I know that this is a good offensive team. Everybody in here knows this is a good offensive team. This doesn't surprise me."
Upon returning to the dugout following his homer, Dunn ran through the A's man-made home run tunnel -- a "tall tunnel," as shortstop Jed Lowrie called it, for the 6-foot-6 slugger.
"When he was running through the tunnel, I was like, 'Wow, that's really cool,'" Lowrie said. "That's exactly what he was brought here to do, and that's what he did."
"That's the most excited, anxious, probably a little nervous, that I've been in a long time," Dunn said. "It was just fun. It was real fun."
The victory came on the heels of a demoralizing four-game sweep in Anaheim, after which Melvin addressed his squad in a closed-door meeting. Publicly, the skipper called their performance "embarrassing" and "pathetic."
His message seems to have sunk in. The A's, who scored four runs total in four games in Anaheim, looked like their old selves again, tagging Seattle starter Chris Young for five runs in just two-thirds of an inning.
Dunn finished 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, while catcher Geovany Soto, making his Coliseum debut, had a two-run single with the bases loaded in the first. Lowrie returned from the disabled list and had a pair of hits, as did Josh Reddick, and the A's finished with 11 hits in total.
Just as encouraging as the offensive burst was the sparkling performance by Hammel, who lasted eight innings for the first time since May 27, 2013, and held his opponent to one run for a second straight outing. After posting a 9.53 ERA in his first four A's starts, Hammel now has a 2.40 ERA in his last five. He threw 111 pitches and tallied his second win in green and gold.
"We didn't do anything too fancy," Hammel said. "It was mainly fastball, slider today. Just staying aggressive with the heater. That's when I'm good."
Hammel has worked well with Soto in the right-hander's last two starts.
"I kind of understand his switch spot, if you will, his power zone," said Soto. "I just try to guide him in the right direction and try to put him in spots where he can be successful."
"He mixed his pitches up pretty good," said Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson. "He was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes with offspeed. Really wasn't showing any one look, was able to throw the offspeed for a strike, he located the fastball pretty good and we just couldn't really get anything going."
With the Angels off on Monday, the Wild Card-leading A's moved to 4 1/2 games back in the American League West. They have 25 games left to make up the ground, and Dunn, for one, could not be more excited.
"That's the best crowd I've ever played with," he said. "I'm serious. It's unbelievable. If it's like that every night here, it's going to be a fun little ride."
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.