Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND -- Xander Bogaerts already had rounded third and was cruising toward the plate with the game's first run. This one wasn't even worth a throw.

Mitch Moreland had just singled to center, and the Red Sox were about to take a 1-0 lead.

"When it was hit, I didn't think he had a chance," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Ramón Laureano had other ideas.

Even after the ball took a bad hop and kicked to his left, the A's center fielder came up firing. Without any forward momentum, Laureano launched a 96-mph missile to the plate. On the fly.

Nick Hundley swept the tag on Bogaerts, and the Oakland Coliseum crowd erupted. Members of the media gasped in the press box. Did that really just happen?

"Those ones are kind of in the moment, so the adrenaline gets you going," Laureano smiled. "But it's just practice. It's the same thing we practice every day."

"He's special," added Chad Pinder, who had an up-close view from left field. "Any time that guy is charging a ball where there's a close play at the plate, everybody here knows what Ramon's capable of. It's not just the arm strength, but the accuracy. I knew he had a chance."

Pinder wasn't the only one who knew Laureano had a chance. Starting pitcher Aaron Brooks' job on the play was to back up home plate, in case of an errant throw. That proved to be unnecessary.

 

Said Brooks: "When the ball was hit, I kind of said in the back of my mind, 'I'm gonna go back up home, but I'm pretty sure he's gonna get thrown out.' He made a perfect throw, and it was huge."

While it did end up being a perfect throw, Melvin noted that Laureano missed the cut-off man, something he's willing to forgive this time.

"It's like a three-point shot," Melvin joked. 'No, no, no, yeah!' And he's done that before. We should know never count out his arm on a particular play."

But Laureano says he knew what he was doing the whole time: "I know Moreland doesn't run that well, so I knew I just had to throw it straight home because he wasn't going to second base."

Laureano was right. Moreland stayed at first despite the throw going all the way through to the plate.

Oakland went on to beat the Red Sox 7-0, with Laureano among four A's who homered in the win. But even though the game turned into a rout, Laureano's second-inning throw was pivotal.

"There's momentum from both sides, and that throw is huge right there," Melvin said. "It's a run, all of a sudden it's a tie game and now it's not. That was a big part of the game."

Added Laureano: "You don't know how the rhythm of the game is going to go. As long as you can get some outs, especially some key outs, that's always big."

Laureano recorded nine outfield assists in just 47 games last season as a rookie. This was his first of 2019. And you can bet it won't be his last.