Cespedes finds his stroke in A’s win

OAKLAND COLISEUM — The Oakland A’s are succeeding because of Yoenis Cespedes. With the Cuban missile in the lineup this season, the Athletics are 11-2, and just 5-10 without him.

With two impressive hits — an RBI double and a two-run triple — Cespedes led the A’s to a 10-6 win over the Angels Tuesday night.

After a 19-inning marathon which lasted into Tuesday morning, the A’s got a critical solid outing from Jarrod Parker to preserve the overworked bullpen.

Parker wasn’t perfect but he did the job: Six innings, six hits, four runs, three earned, walked three, and struck out four for his first win in 2013.

Trailing 1-0, Oakland scored two runs to take the lead in the fourth inning. After a single to right by Seth Smith, Cespedes doubled off the 15-foot wall in right-center scoring Smith. Cespedes came home on a wild pitch.

In the fifth, Derek Norris singled to center before John Jaso’s bloop double to left made it 3-1 Oakland. Adam Rosales walked, then Cespedes hit another rocket, this one off the 388 marker in deep left center to score Jaso and Rosales.

In the first game of the series, Cespedes posed after hitting what he thought was a home run and ended up stuck on first base. This time, he ran hard out of the batter’s box and ended up on third base with a sliding, two-run triple.

A’s manager Bob Melvin says Cespedes is a hard-nosed player:

A’s Manager Bob Melvin

“Yesterday he thought it was leaving the ballpark. It’s not for a lack of hustle he just misread it. He’s done a great job for us, he busts his butt for it, he hustles. I think just the other night was one he just misread.”

The A’s sent eight men to the plate in the sixth and scored four more runs. Norris scored on a wild pitch, and then with the bases loaded, Smith doubled to right clearing the bases.

In the eighth, Cespedes collected his fourth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly that scored Eric Sogard after he had singled to open the inning.

The Angels, with a payroll of $127,896,250 is the 7th highest among the 30 Major League teams. Their loss dropped them to 9-17, a franchise worst after 26 games to start the season.

Needless to say the Angels are not getting their money’s worth out of high-priced free agents like Albert Pujols (.252, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and Josh Hamilton (.204, 2 HR, 9 RBI).

Pujols was 0-for-5 with one RBI and Hamilton 1-for-4. The Halos are considered the favorites to win the division with such a talent-laden roster.

But you don’t win games on paper.

Money can’t buy you love and it doesn’t always buy you wins either. Another problem are injuries. The Angels currently have eight players on the DL, including Cy Young winner Jered Weaver, veterans Alberto Callaspo and Ryan Madson.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is obviously frustrated:

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia

“To win games you have to focus on a process … playing good baseball, making plays. I think with some of the depth issues we’ve faced I think there’s a lot on some places to do more and that’s contrary to what you need. Right now it’s incredibly frustrating personally but as far as in that room I don’t see the frustration levels to see where it’s not manageable.”

By comparison, the A’s are ranked 27th with a team payroll of $ 60,372,500.

Reliever Evan Scribner was just recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and didn’t have his best outing. He pitched only 2/3rds of the seventh inning, giving up three hits and two runs.

Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour, though, were lights out. The duo combined to pitch the final 1-1/3 innings allowing only a walk and two strikeouts.

Melvin says he’s doing his best to manage the bullpen as he sees fit:

“We don’t try to tax our starters too much. We wanted to get Scrib in there and see how far we could go with that. We ended up using Doolittle. We didn’t have to use Cook, Balfour was available. So until we get to this off day there will be a few guys that won’t be available and some that will and you try to finish up the game with the guys that are available.”

Notes

The A’s have won 13 straight against the American League West after losing the first two games of the season to the Mariners. … Oakland was 16-12 in April, just the second time in the last 10 years the A’s posted a winning record in April. (16-11 in 2008). In April the Athletics set team records for most runs (168), doubles (66), extra base hits (100), and walks (130). … Jed Lowrie played all 19 innings in the first game of the series and given a much deserved night off. He finished April with a Oakland record 34 hits surpassing 33 hits by Stan Javier 1994 and equalled by Ben Grieve in 1998.