ANAHEIM – One day spent as the defensive toast of baseball wasn’t enough for Yoenis Cespedes.
The A’s left fielder was at it again Wednesday, unleashing another remarkable throw that had the ballpark buzzing in Oakland’s 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The win helped the A’s avoid a three-game sweep and close their nine-game road trip on a high note.
Once again, Cespedes misplayed a ball in the left field corner. Once again he redeemed himself by cutting down another base runner.
This time he nailed the lumbering Albert Pujols, who unwisely tried to turn a double into a triple in the sixth inning. Cespedes let the ball carom and bounce away from him before he rifled a throw on the fly -- from the warning track -- to get Pujols by a wide margin at third.
It wasn’t as jaw-dropping as his 300-plus foot throw to home plate Tuesday to nail Howie Kendrick, but what play will be?
In actuality, Cespedes’ throw Wednesday wasn’t even the best play of the game turned in by an outfielder. His teammate in center, Coco Crisp, made a leaping catch in the second to steal a home run from Josh Hamilton. That came after Cespedes himself was robbed of extra bases in the first by Mike Trout’s leaping grab.
Cespedes’ throw was only part of his terrific all-around game. He singled home the A’s first run in the third off Jered Weaver (7-5). He led off the sixth with a double and scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly to break a 1-1 tie. Then he delivered another run-scoring single in ninth-inning garbage time to cap his three-hit night.
Cespedes enjoyed a 15-for-41 road trip (.366), a well-timed hot streak given that Josh Donaldson’s bat is on ice and Brandon Moss cooled off during the Angels series.
Starting pitching report
Tommy Milone (4-3) turned in a solid 6 2/3 innings and helped the A’s push their division lead over the Angels back to 3 ½ games. Milone benefitted from his outfield’s heroics as well as a line-drive double play, but Milone did his part in helping the A’s avoid a sweep. He scattered six hits, struck out four and walked two. The Angels got their only run off the lefty in the fourth, but Milone did well to avoid further damage when he stranded two runners on with one out. He got Erick Aybar to chase a change-up for strike three and rang up Chris Iannetta looking to end the threat.
Milone has made “quality” starts in each of his past four outings and he’s now won his past four decisions.
More nice work from the A’s relief corps. Ryan Cook relieved Milone in the seventh and blew a 97 mile-per-hour fastball by David Freese to strand two runners. Luke Gregerson stranded two in the eighth and Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth.
At the plate
After Lowrie’s go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth, Stephen Vogt drove a 2-2 pitch from Weaver over the right field wall for his first homer of the season, giving the A’s a 4-1 lead. They scored three more in the ninth to break it open, including a run-scoring single from Coco Crisp.
In the field
Crisp made an outstanding play when he reached over the wall and pulled back Hamilton’s would-be homer. The best part of the play: The fireworks went off at Angel Stadium, as someone obviously assumed Hamilton’s drive had left the yard. Cespedes now has eight outfield assists in his last 16 games and leads the majors with nine for the season.
A crowd of 36,793 showed up, and most of them were probably yelling at Pujols not to challenge Cespedes in the sixth.
The Yankees visit over the weekend for their only Coliseum appearance. Friday – Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83) vs. David Phelps (1-4, 4.88), 7:05 p.m. Saturday – Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20) vs. Hideki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12), 7:05 p.m. Sunday – Jesse Chavez (5-4, 3.04) vs. Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97), 1:05 p.m.