Cespedes: 'The only thing I'm looking for is contact'
Yoenis Cespdes has knocked in seven runs over his last two games. He had three RBI over his previous 24 games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- There is no doubt the A's need a power bat, or two, down the stretch if they have serious plans on making a late October run.
But doing something drastic ahead of Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline just might be out of the picture. Especially now that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes is heating up, and right fielder Josh Reddick is right behind him.
In the A's 9-4 defeat of Toronto Monday night, Cespedes ended his career-worst 25-game homerless streak with a solo shot in the eighth inning and had his second straight three-hit game for the first time in his career, and drove in three runs, while Reddick had three RBI and a double.
"Considering the fact that they hit 3-4 most of last year…we always remain encouraged and they're too talented to stay down for too long," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Reddick and Cespedes, they're going to mean a lot to us down the stretch."
A year ago, Cespedes batted a team-leading .292 and hit 23 home runs with 82 RBI while Reddick hit .242 with team highs in homers (32) and RBI (85). Entering Monday, they were on pace for lines of .226/23/73 and .216/8/53, respectively.
"We know it's frustrating and we know that players go through this thing, whether it's a week or a month long," Reddick said . "And you've just got to keep pounding away and you know you're going to turn it around at some point. And that's what we've done today."
Cespedes tripled in the first inning, driving in Eric Sogard and Jed Lowrie. But what was most impressive about his hit was that it was a standup triple on a ball he hit down the third-baseline, and not into the corner. Cespedes simply crushed the ball and sped around the bases.
Two batters later, Cespedes scored on Reddick's sacrifice fly out to center.
Reddick then doubled in the fifth inning, scoring Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson to give the A's a 7-1 lead.
"We all bring our grain of sand," Cespedes said in Spanish, meaning if each player does their individual part, they can build something larger.
"Right now we are O.K., but we can be even more dangerous. I'm starting to feel better and when Reddick gets better, we will be better as a team."
Said Reddick: "You get confidence at the plate when you have guys on (base). That's all it takes, is to get guys on and then you find yourself a little more focused and a little more concentration at the plate where you feel more confident swinging the bat."
It's a testament to the A's as a team that, at 63-43, they are tied with Tampa Bay for the best record in the American League and hold a six-game advantage on Texas in the American League West despite the relative shortcomings thus far of Cespedes and Reddick.
That they are seemingly about to take off should give A's general manager Billy Beane pause about mortgaging Oakland's future for a high-priced trade acquisition, no?
"(Cespedes is) going to catch fire here and I feel like we're going to ride him all the way home to the promised land," offered A's right-hander A.J. Griffin.
High praise for the second-year slugger who has not shied away from acknowledging his problems at the plate.
"I've been making adjustments, but the other team has been making them, too," Cespedes said. "And when you come out to the field, it's different than what you expected."
Which is why when he took Brett Cecil deep to left field on an 0-and-1 count to lead off the eighth you'd think Cespedes would have exhaled.
Not so much.
"I don't feel good because of the home run," he said. "I feel good because I'm starting to feel better."
Try wrapping you head around that. And then you'll start to get that disorienting feeling of opposing pitchers when Cespedes and Reddick are right.