Cespedes returns, Milone shines as A’s down Dodgers

Jimmy Durkin, in for Joe Stiglich, who returns tomorrow

The buzz before the game was Yoenis Cespedes’ return to the A’s lineup. And while the rookie from Cuba looked great at the plate, rookie left-handed pitcher Tommy Milone stole the show.

He went the distance, surrendering a run on three hits to move to 7-5. He only struck out two, but walked just one and finished it off in 112 pitches on a night in which closer Ryan Cook was unavailable. He threw all four of his pitches for strikes and took advantage of the open spaces of O.co Coliseum by inducing 12 fly outs to the outfield.

“It’s definitely a lot easier to pitch here,” Milone said. “You can leave a ball over the plate and they hit a good fly ball like they hit tonight. There’s a bunch of room and our guys are just tracking it down. The defense played really well tonight.”

Milone’s complete game was the first of his career and the first by an A’s pitcher this season. The rookie improved to 5-1 with a 0.99 ERA in six home starts. He’s just 2-4 with a 7.42 ERA in eight road starts. He hasn’t quite figured out why the numbers are so different when he’s on the Coliseum mound.

“I feel just as comfortable when I’m out on the road,” Milone said. “For some reason, it just doesn’t work out. I’m still trying to figure it out and hopefully on this next road trip, I think I’m going to get two games on the road in Seattle and Texas, and hopefully I come out on top.”

While Milone stole some spotlight, there was still plenty to talk about in terms of Cespedes. He was in the lineup for the first time since June 13 at Colorado. He left that game after his first inning at bat after aggravating his left hamstring strain. That game was his first since June 7. (He originally went on the DL on May 12 and returned June 1).

Cespedes said he felt like he was about 80 percent and that’s why he served as a DH for the first time in his big league career. He also said he never served as a DH during his eight years playing in Cuba.

Cespedes lined out to center field on a curve ball in the first inning. He ripped a double down the left-field line in the fourth inning and eventually scored the A’s first run. Cespedes blooped an RBI single in the fifth and then crushed a ball in the eighth that was caught at the wall. He thought he had enough for a home run before watching it come up short.

“I feel so good coming back to play,” Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. “Really happy because we won again.”

— Josh Reddick continued to struggle at the plate. A night after striking out four times, he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and a double play. The double play came with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning. It produced the go-ahead run (no RBI awarded), but cost the A’s a chance to put together a bigger rally. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before the game that Reddick could be due for a day off in the near future. With the A’s facing reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, a tough lefty, tomorrow, you’d have to think they’d consider giving him a day.

— Brandon Moss homered in the eighth inning and now has seven home runs in 13 games with the A’s. Of his 12 hits, 10 are for extra bases. He also has three doubles.

— Seth Smith was 1 for 3 with an RBI double. He’s hitting .417 with 11 RBI in his last 12 games, which has coincided with him seeing more time in the outfield with Cespedes out. He’s hitting .340 (35 for 103) with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 34 games in the outfield compared with .178 (13 for 73) with no homers and six RBIs in 23 games as DH.

Joe Stiglich

  • Dyed-in-the-Wool

    Interesting splits on Seth Smith. I guess some guys just feel more into it when playing a position vs DH-only duties. Perhaps we need to consider letting Cereal take his weak OBA and arm elsewhere and go with a starting outfield of Smith, Cubano, and Reddick from left to right. Cowgill and Gomes would be fine as extra outfielders and then the DH duties could be a platoon of Gomes and Donaldson with possibly our old friend and 4-A star Chris Carter getting one last chance in big league white shoes.

    It was fun to watch Milone keep that potent lineup off balance. Good job, kid!