If Bob Melvin was worried about Yoenis Cespedes’ hitting over the last month, all he’ll have to do is look at the left fielder’s performance Sunday afternoon for reassurance.
Oakland’s big hitter went 2-for-4 Sunday and knocked in the go-ahead home run on a solo shot over the left field wall in the eighth inning, and that would be the difference as the Athletics went on to win 4-3 , completing the three-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals.
A.J. Griffin struck out five and walked three in six innings of work, and he did well to limit the Royals to three runs in his time on the mound.
Kansas City scored first for the third time in the series. After a single in the first inning, Alex Gordon came through with another for a two-out RBI in the third to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. They’d add another when Griffin walked two in the fourth, and Chris Getz brought Eric Hosmer home from second on a single to center field.
The A’s made it 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning. Consecutive singles to lead off the inning from Cespedes and Brandon Moss put men on first and third for Josh Donaldson, and the third basemen brought home the run on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Gordon garnered his third hit of the day with a line drive single off of Griffin with one out in the fifth, and following another single by Billy Butler, Hosmer smacked a double to left to score the third run of the game for Kansas City. The A’s responded with a run in the next half inning. Eric Sogard got on board with a double to left field, and he’d score when Jed Lowrie hit a blooper to right field to make it 3-2. Fans at the Coliseum thought the A’s might have taken the lead when Cespedes got a hold of a low fastball, but it fell short and was caught on the warning track in left field to end the inning.
Griffin came out after retiring the side in the sixth, and Hideki Okajima replaced him on the mound in the seventh, making his debut as a member of the Oakland Athletics. It wasn’t an entirely smoothless appearance, however. Gordon made it 4-for-4 at the plate with a one-out double, and Okajima intentionally walked Butler with an open base to work with. Hosmer advanced both runners with a groundout in the next at-bat and Kansas City threatened to increase their lead, but Okajima induced a groundout to first from Mike Moustakas to get out of the jam.
The A’s caught a break when Derek Norris hit a line drive to center field, and in a lapse of concentration David Lough mishandled the bounce, and the ball would roll all the way to the wall to give Norris a triple. Coco Crisp brought him home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game 3-3 heading into the eighth.
Jerry Blevins relieved Okajima and only allowed a benign single, and Cespedes gave the A’s a lead when he struck a fastball over the wall in left-center in the bottom of the eighth — the exact part of the park that he nearly hit one out in the fifth. It was his eighth home run of the year, and it reinforced the Cuban slugger’s reputation as a player that can change a game with one swing of the bat.
Ryan Cook got into a bit of trouble trying to close out the game in the ninth, giving up singles to Butler and Hosmer, but he got Mike Moustakas to ground out to second base to end the game.
Oakland is now 23-22 as they travel to Texas for a three-game series against the division-leading Rangers before taking on the Houston Astros three times over the weekend. Bartolo Colon is set to take the mound Monday night against Josh Lindblom, and the game will kick off at 5:05 PST.