On Thursday night in the second inning, Yoenis Cespedes clanked a hard hit ground ball as the left fielder committed yet another costly defensive blunder.
The Houston Astros ended up grabbing a vital extra run on the play, which would prove decisive in the 3-2 loss for the Oakland Athletics. However, the miscue wasn’t exactly a classic Cespedes mental lapse.
Cespedes booted the ball because he was angling to hose the Astro baserunner at the plate. L.J. Hoes appeared to have already rounded third by the time the ball kicked off the heel of Cespedes’ glove, but with his cannon of an arm, it’s quite possible he would have gunned down the runner.
There might not be another left fielder who would have even thought of attempting that play. If Cespedes fields the grounder and uncorks a strike to the plate, perhaps the entire game would have worked out differently. Maybe Cespedes would have even been the hero. But it didn’t and he isn’t.
Cespedes wasn’t the only problem. The team in general came out flat, which will happen considering the ridiculous grind of the 162-game MLB schedule, especially on a night where there are 11,569 fans out at the park.
The Astros, who are languishing 46 games under .500, weren’t flat though. Perhaps that’s because the team is filled with players who are using every game to prove they belong in the big leagues. With the roster expanded, the Athletics also have some guys who are desperate to prove themselves on the big-league stage. With three games against the Astros remaining, manager Bob Melvin might just want to write a call-up or two into the lineup.
Why not bench Cespedes on Friday night and give Michael Choice the start? Melvin can call it a mental day, or he can just simply shrug. If Choice goes 3-for-4 with a double, then keep running him out there. If not, send Cespedes back out, and nothing’s lost.
The Athletics need to light a fire under their, at times, electric left fielder. A seat on the bench, even for a day, could be step one.