Tonight was the continuation of the game that Yoenis Cespedes started by himself last night, and he continued to impress the A's, the Angels and the rest of Major League baseball as he unleashed yet another throw to gun down yet another Angels' base runner (the fourth in two weeks) just as the Angels mounted a threat. Oh, and he also went 3 for 5 (nearly 4-5) with 2 RBI in the game. The difference tonight is he got the help he needed for the A's win. Backed by Tommy Milone and his nearly-seven innings and one earned run, and a little help from two hits from Coco, a towering two-run home run from Stephen Vogt, and 4 additional hits scattered up and down the lineup, the A's broke open a tense 1-1 ballgame by putting up 3-spots in both the sixth and ninth innings to rack up the score. Until the last inning, this series was very symmetrical; both teams would have a game with a three-run lead, and the rubber game was a tight 14-inning affair which could have been won by either side.
I don't have to point out the difference between a 1.5 and a 3.5 division lead, which is what the A's were facing had they not beat Weaver tonight. And of course, despite losing the series, the A's still increased their run differential overall, because of course they did. And of course they won tonight, facing the pitcher they were the least likely to beat, because that's just how they roll this season.
Alberto Callaspo was pulled unexpectedly during the game; we guessed that he's on paternity leave, but I think it's been reported that he was just sick. Either way, it forced a struggling and resting Josh Donaldson into the action, adding two more unsuccessful at-bats to his current slump. Tomorrow's day off can't come soon enough for him in particular, but also the rest of the offense, who just need some rest before taking on the Yankees at home this weekend in the "goodbye Deter Jeter" road tour.
Tonight's game started out decidedly inauspiciously for the green and gold, as a maybe, possibly, could have been a home run by Cespedes was rudely snatched away by a leaping Mike Trout in center. It also could have been a two-out double, so when we returned the favor, we made it count. In the Angels' half of the second inning, the first batter, Josh Hamilton, tried to send a ball of his own out of the park, but Coco caught the would-be home run and brought it back, amidst the premature fireworks going off around him.
"No, no, no, fireworks!"
The A's would strike first in this one, as a one-out Coco double and a Cespedes single would plate the A's first run. Tommy Milone would survive a lead-off double by Collin Cowgill (seriously, what. the.) in the third inning as Sogard made a nifty shoe-top catch and doubled Cowgill off second. The Angels would tie the game in the fourth on two doubles, but that would be the only run Milone and the 'pen would give up tonight.
And just when you thought; oh crap, we're playing 14 more tonight (you DID!), the A's broke free and started scoring some real runs. I had almost forgotten what that was like. Cespedes (who else?) doubled to lead off the sixth inning and Brandon Moss all-but-bunted to the left side to get the infield hit. I don't know how to explain that if he would do that successfully for a week's worth of games, there would be no more shift with which to contend. Runners at first and third was a groovy new trend for the A's, and even the shallow fly ball that Lowrie hit was no deterrent to the A's; Cespedes ran home fast to give the A's the lead. Vogt would follow with his home run, and just like that, the A's were up 4-1. The best part was the home run was the last pitch that Weaver would throw, so the A's got to him for all four runs.
With one out in the Angels' half of the sixth inning, Pujols got lucky as he extended his hands and dropped a soft double out to left field. And then, he lost his mind. Was he not watching a) the play last night live where Cespy threw the ball 300+ feet on the fly with no set up b) SportsCenter's top 1 of the 10 plays c) any of the other three times his teammates have been thrown out by the A's left fielder this month alone? Apparently that answer is "nope". After Cespedes bobbled the ball (again), Pujols sprinted (like a gazelle!) to third base, and Cespedes uncorked a very similar throw to last night--of the recovery and toss variety--and of course, threw him out as the new third baseman, Josh Donaldson, applied the tag. I swear, if I didn't know any better, Cespedes was trolling the runner on this one.
In honor of the Angels' Social Media night, I'll post the Angels' response:
Cespedes, I thought we discussed this already...— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 12, 2014
And just for funsies:
Yoenis Cespedes throws out Albert Pujols for his league-leading 9th outfield assist. That's more than 13 entire MLB teams this season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 12, 2014
So there was that to kill the rally. And just so the A's would be sure to make SportsCenter on back-to-back nights.
Milone got into a bit of a jam in the seventh, allowing two singles with two outs, and bringing the tying run to the plate, but his replacement, Ryan Cook, didn't mess around, striking out Freese on just three pitches. Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing two infield hits to bring up the tying run, but he would get out of the jam. The A's offense didn't allow Jim Johnson to bring the tying run to the plate; they scored three more runs in the ninth to pad the lead. Gentry and Sogard started off the ninth with infield hits, and Coco singled in the A's fifth run. He also danced off first base enough to cause the Angels to throw the ball away, scoring the A's sixth run, and Cespedes capped off his night with another RBI single to extend the lead to 7-1.
Johnson put two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but he would also pitch a scoreless inning to lock down the win. So a Milone win, an A's win, a Cespedes throw, a Vogt homerun, and a 3.5 division lead to wrap up the road trip at 5-4 is going to have to be good enough as the A's return home. Let's hope for lots of rest, a good round of batting practice for Donaldson, and a successful series against the Yankees this weekend. We'll see you here if you're not out rocking the Coliseum! Nico will be your Friday host.