video thumbnail

SEA@OAK: Cespedes drills a mammoth two-run shot

OAKLAND -- The A's suffered their second loss on Friday. But the majority of those in attendance for the home opener aren't going to remember this particular game for what the final box score said -- not after what they saw in the fourth inning.

The moment itself lasted mere seconds. But Yoenis Cespedes' first home run in the Coliseum -- an absolutely colossal two-run shot to center field, measured by ESPN at 462 feet -- will be talked about for much longer. Hundreds of home runs have surely surpassed that mark -- Cespedes even said he's hit longer ones in Cuba. But A's fans aren't so accustomed to the long, long ball in the confines of their spacious abode.

Some, then, would consider Oakland's 7-3 loss to the Mariners a side note to the Cespedes Show. For the game itself -- an affair characterized by a messy defensive scene -- wasn't pretty. Cespedes' homer was.

"Hopefully, they can get used to it," said Jonny Gomes.

Gomes was on base at the time, having reached on a walk issued by Seattle lefty Jason Vargas. With two outs, Cespedes approached the plate for his second at-bat of the night, following a flyout to right field in the first. He took a called strike, then two balls. And before most eyes could recognize the next pitch, Cespedes had sent it above the center-field luxury boxes.

"Fastball, in the middle," he said through translator Ariel Prieto.

"He was leaning out there and hit it pretty hard," Vargas said. "I didn't see where it went. But on the replay, it looked like it went pretty far."

Cespedes, like the sold-out crowd of 35,067, just watched the ball sail. In fact, Cespedes may have watched it a little too long. Afterward, he noted it's probably not an act he should repeat again. But, soon enough, he gradually made his way around the bases, his home-run trot seemingly mastered.

"They all pretty much make the same sound. So when he hits one, there's usually no doubt about it," manager Bob Melvin said. "It doesn't matter, really, the ballpark or where it's at."

It marked his second long ball in just three big league games, a feat not accomplished by any other player in A's history. If Cespedes keeps up his pace, he may find himself batting third or fourth, rather than in one of the three slots that follow, sooner than he thought.

As the A's learned, though, such an impact bat can't always impact the final score. And a visibly disappointed Melvin was not interested in dwelling on the home run.

"The whole game was very disappointing for me," Melvin said. "We really wanted to put on a good show tonight. We don't get too many good crowds like that. And on Opening Night, you want to make a good first impression. We didn't play [nearly] as well as we should."

And right-hander Brandon McCarthy didn't exactly enjoy a repeat performance of his one-run outing against the Mariners a week earlier. A four-run third plagued the A's No. 1 starter, who exited the lengthy inning with 59 pitches already in the books.

Brendan Ryan doubled to lead off the frame, and when a pesky Chone Figgins -- he went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot -- bunted up the third-base line, A's third baseman-in-training Josh Donaldson's throw to first hit Figgins in the back. An ensuing base hit by Dustin Ackley and a walk to Ichiro Suzuki loaded the bases and McCarthy, who proceeded to tally two outs while letting just one run score, appeared close to exiting the jam. He subsequently surrendered a two-run single to Kyle Seager to put the Mariners ahead, 4-0.

"It was bad, about as bad as it's been in a long time," McCarthy said. "Just very little feel, kind of the complete opposite of how I felt in Tokyo. I felt very sharp there, could execute mostly everything I wanted to do. Tonight, [it] just wasn't the case. For some reason, I just lost all feel for anything I was trying to do. The first two innings felt sharp. Things just kind of sped up in the third, and I couldn't really get it back."

The A's right-hander, coming off a seven-inning performance, lasted just five this time, giving up five runs (two earned) on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts on 95 pitches along the way. McCarthy, a perfectionist of sorts, will have to be as close to that this season while pitching for a mostly unproven offense.

Seth Smith tallied the only other RBI for the A's in the bottom of the eighth, a one-out single that plated Jemile Weeks. But that was all the team that compiled baseball's third-best spring record could manage.

"We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys who haven't played together before," said Melvin. "And we're continually trying to move on in the process of playing together as a team. We got off to a good start in Spring Training, but tonight was not a good game for us."

But a memorable one, no doubt, for fans meeting Cespedes for the first time.

"He'll hit 'em further than that," Melvin assured.

MLB.com Comments