OAKLAND (AP) — With the bat and with his arm, Yoenis Cespedes put on the best all-around performance of his career in front of a rare sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum.
Cespedes finished a single shy of the cycle and threw out two runners at the plate, powering the Athletics past the Los Angeles Angels 11-3 on Saturday night in front of 35,067 fans.
“I got a lot of motivation when I see the field like that,” Cespedes said through an interpreter in Spanish. “The stands are full, the same thing when we were in the playoffs. It was sold out and they made me feel like a stronger mind and gave me a lot of motivation.”
In front of just the fourth sellout crowd of the season in Oakland, Cespedes gave quite a show.
The reigning Home Run Derby champion doubled in the fourth, hit a triple in the seventh that scored the go-ahead runs and added a three-run homer in the eighth. He matched a career high with five RBIs to help the two-time defending AL West champions stretch their lead to 3½ games over the Angels in the division.
“No doubt about it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said when asked if Cespedes feeds off the roaring home crowds. “He just becomes a different player.”
Collin Cowgill’s three-run homer off Tommy Milone in the fourth accounted for all of the Angels’ runs. The A’s tagged Tyler Skaggs (4-3) with four runs and five hits in six-plus innings.
Angels slugger Mike Trout was scratched from the lineup due to stiffness in his upper back.
Fernando Rodriguez (1-0) tossed one scoreless inning for the win.
Milone allowed nine hits in six innings, striking out three and walking one. He labored most of the way — including escaping a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the first — but got a big boost from his strong-armed, green glove-wearing left fielder on nearly identical plays in the second inning.
Cespedes charged in and heaved a one-hop strike to catcher Derek Norris to nab Chris Iannetta and Kole Calhoun after line-drive singles. The throws sent fans roaring to their feet each time, and Cespedes received high-fives and head-pats from teammates and coaches in the dugout.
“He had a career night. I’m lucky that it was today,” Milone said.
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth upheld the first call after a 2-minute, 30-second review to see if Norris illegally blocked the plate under the new collision rule. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Iannetta didn’t have a lane to slid and the rule needs to be more clearly defined.
There was no review or challenge on the second play to get Calhoun.
“Knew it was going to be bang-bang and he’s got a great arm,” Calhoun said. “I thought I had a good jump. I thought it’d be closer than what it was, but that was a great play by him.”
Cespedes came back big time with the bat. He doubled with one out in the fourth for Oakland’s first hit, and Norris drove in a run on a flyout for Oakland’s first run.
After Kyle Blanks’ solo homer and Josh Donaldson’s RBI groundout tied the score in the seventh, Cespedes’ drive off reliever Joe Smith landed just over Calhoun’s glove in right to score the go-ahead runs. Cespedes later lined a three-run shot in Jarrett Grube’s major league debut in the eighth.
It was Cespedes’ 10th home run this season. He also had five RBIs at Cleveland on May 18.
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