Entering Friday’s game against the Angels in Anaheim, the A’s were seventh in the American League for a .984 roster percentage.
They looked much better than a defensive midfield team in their 8-4 win.
“You can be solid and do all the routine plays, but we also have the ability to make great plays – and that’s really what sets you apart defensively,” manager Bob Melvin said at his conference. Zoom press release after the game.
What distinguished the A’s on Friday night:
• In the second inning, right fielder Stephen Piscotty covered a lot of ground and then landed a slippery hold in flyball foul territory from Juan Lagares.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 21: Chad Pinder # 4 of the Oakland Athletics holds the ball hit by Jose Iglesias # 4 of the Los Angeles Angels for an out in the fifth inning at Angel Stadium Anaheim on May 21, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)
• Second baseman Chad Pinder made a ridiculously difficult capture on Jose Iglesias’ pop-up to finish fifth. Pinder rushed to the center-right, and with his back to home plate and his knees stuck in the grass, he sort of held the ball.
• The pivotal defensive play came with two outs and a man on board in the seventh. After Pinder had a three-run homer in the top of the inning to put Oakland in the top 6-4, the Angels looked like they wanted to tie when Anthony Rendon sent a Jake Diekman pitch to center-left. Ramón Laureano ran to the warning lane, jumped and stole at Rendon which would have probably made a 6-6 game.
Oakland Athletic Center outfielder Ramon Laureano (22) catches a ball hit by Anthony Rendon of the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning of a baseball game on Friday, May 21, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)
Laureano has had so many highlights since joining the A’s in August 2018 that fans and his teammates have probably come to expect them.
“I guess you could say that, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting,” Pinder said.
Starting pitcher James Kaprielian said, “I feel like every time I look up Ramon is at the wall, saving a home run.”
• In the eighth, two-time Golden Glove winner first baseman Matt Olson spotted Taylor Ward’s foul and reached the stands for the catch.
Oakland Athletics second baseman Chad Pinder (4) places first for a double play after Juan Lagares (19) of the Los Angeles Angels finished second in the ninth inning of a baseball game on Friday, May 21, 2021, in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)
• The match ended when David Fletcher rebounded in a 5-4-3 double play. Pinder’s powerful throw from second place was just in time to get Fletcher.
“We are proud of our defense,” said Melvin. “We are a very good defensive team and (the players) are working very hard at it.”
Steve Kroner is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SteveKronerSF
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