Oakland manager Bob Melvin didn't know until an hour before Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels whether Ramón Laureano would be available.
After finding out that Major League Baseball wouldn't decide on his appeal of a six-game suspension, the Athletics center fielder helped his team avert a series sweep.
Laureano made three sensational catches in Oakland's 8-4 victory. The Athletics got three home runs and solid pitching from starter Chris Bassitt, but it was Laureano's glove work that ended up making the difference.
“He’s a Gold Glove center fielder, no doubt. He won us the game defensively," said Bassitt, who improved to 2-0 after going 5 2/3 innings. "I know we won it by a couple more runs, but he definitely saved us.”
Laureano made web gems in three straight innings and with the Athletics hanging on to a one-run lead. He made a sliding catch to rob Jo Adell of a single in the fifth and then made leaping grabs at the wall to rob Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin of extra-base hits in the sixth and seventh.
Oakland then broke it open with three runs in the eighth.
“I obviously wish he started serving his suspension today. Those were great plays, He was probably the biggest difference in today’s game,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
Melvin said he expects Laureano’s suspension for his role in Sunday’s benches-clearing brawl against the Houston Astros to begin Friday,. He was just happy to have him for at least one more game.
“I enjoy watching him play. He’s energetic. He knows how many steps it is to the wall. He’s really confident doing it,” Melvin said. “Anytime you leave your feet it’s not an easy play, but he made it look easy. He timed it so well.”
Laureano said the familiarity with the Angel Stadium outfield because it is a division opponent and the ballpark having short walls ended up benefiting him.
“The outfield here is pretty short, so I always feel good here playing the outfield," he said. “Both (catches at the wall) were difficult especially when the sky is the way it is here in Anaheim. I don’t pay too much attention. I just want to catch the ball and that’s it, make it simple.”
Stephen Piscotty, Matt Olson and Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland. Piscotty put the A's ahead with his solo drive in the fourth inning. Olson and Grossman also went deep off Griffin Canning (0-3) as Oakland's offense bounced back after being shut out on Tuesday night.
Seven of the Athletics' nine hits were for extra bases, including a pair of doubles by Matt Chapman.
Bassitt (2-0) threw his third straight win against the Angels. The right-hander came in with only two earned runs allowed in 16 2/3 innings but gave up four runs on five hits while striking out four.
Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon hit solo homers for the Angels, who went deep 10 times in the three-game series. Los Angeles came into the game tied with San Diego for most homers in the majors with 20.
Olson opened the scoring three batters into the game with a 454-foot blast into the elevated stands in right-center. Trout evened it in the bottom of the first when he put Bassitt's sinker over the wall in right-center.
Grossman made it 3-1 in the second with a two-run shot to right-center but Los Angeles evened it in the third on La Stella's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Trout.
Piscotty then gave the Athletics the lead for good when he drove Canning's curveball down the left-field line.
Canning allowed four runs on six hits and struck out two. All four of his home runs allowed this season have been to Oakland.
“They weren’t chasing stuff which they normally do. It seems like they were on everything he was throwing,” said Maddon of Canning.
Rendon's drive to center in the sixth inning pulled the Angels within 5-4 and gave him a homer in three straight games for the second time in his career. The other time was in 2017 for Washington.
The third baseman — who signed a seven-year, $245 million contract during the offseason — came into the series with a .103 batting average and an 0 for 21 hitless streak but went 5 for 11 with three home runs and five RBIs in the series.
Rendon's blast was the Angels' 10th homer of the series, which ties a franchise record for most in a three-game home series. They also had 10 in a 1994 series against the Chicago White Sox and 2014 vs. the New York Mets.
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons (ankle) took some at-bats against live pitching at the alternate training site in Long Beach on Wednesday. While manager Joe Maddon is optimistic that Simmons could return for this weekend's series against the Dodgers, Simmons said he is a bit more cautious. He said during the game that he still doesn't feel quite ready yet.
Athletics: Get an off day on Thursday before going across the bay to face San Francisco in a three-game weekend series. RHP Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA) gets the call in Friday's opener.
Angels: Remain home to host the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend in the Freeway Series. LHP Patrick Sandoval (0-1, 2.70 ERA) gets his first career start against the Dodgers on Friday.
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