OAKLAND — Before the Boston Red Sox bashed the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night, Bob Melvin invoked the name of an old friend when asked to assess 21-year-old phenom Yoan Moncada.
“This is a terrific athlete,” the manager said before the 11-2 blowout. “He kind of reminds you of [Yoenis] Cespedes a little bit the way he runs. So, my guess is, he’s a pretty good player.”
Melvin was right about the third baseman, who MLB.com ranks as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada went 2-for-5 and collected a two-run double — his first big league hit — in the Red Sox’s seven-run third. He flashed his speed too, flying home on a single from Jackie Bradley Jr.
“They’re a good hitting team and if you give them an opportunity they’re going to take it and run with it,” said starter Daniel Mengden.
Hanley Ramirez began the inning with a solo shot into the left-field bleachers that left his bat at 114 mph, according to MLB Stat Cast.
David Ortiz capped off the outburst with a two-run double that hit the top of the wall in right-center field. The designated hitter also connected on a double in the visitor’s two-run first, ending the night 3-for-4 with two RBI.
All the damage came after Mengden retired the first two batters of the inning.
“Team’s that take a lot of pitches and make you throw a lot of pitches, it’s like a boxer,” Melvin said. “It’s just body blows and body blows and then they give you the good one.”
The A’s didn’t mange their first hit — or baserunner — until there was one out in the sixth. Jake Smolinksi lined a double to left, just over the glove of a leaping Chris Young. Bruce Maxwell then singled to right to bring in Smolinksi and gave the A’s their first run. Yonder Alonso added the only other run with a RBI single in the seventh.
With Mengden exiting with two outs in the third, the club’s starters have combined to throw 3.2 innings in the first two games of the series.
Chris Smith helped saved the pen, allowing one unearned run in his four innings of work.
“I can’t say enough about Chris Smith — not just tonight,” Melvin said. “ Certainly tonight was the best we’ve seen based on the fact that we needed him.”
Before the A’s recalled the 35-year-old at the beginning of August, Smith hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2010.
“The guy enjoys being at the ballpark every day,’ Melvin explained. “Where he is in his career, he’s in a great mood every day. It’s great for the younger guys to see. On top of that, he was very effective tonight.”Bob Melvinbruce maxwellDaniel MengdenDavid Ortizjake smolinksikarl buscheckMLBOakland AthleticsYoan Moncada