ANAHEIM Marcus Semien crushing two home runs or Edwin Jackson continuing his dominant streak of innings without allowing an earned run could be headlines of their own, but all any As player could talk about postgame was a play by a rookie.
On a night where all three phases of the game were on point for the As in Saturdays 7-0 blowout of the Angels, it was a throw by Ramon Laureano that left everyone inside Angel Stadium buzzing.
Laureano had already shown off his arm at the Coliseum, becoming the first player in Oakland history to record an outfield assist in each of the first two games of his career, but this play he made in the third inning may have been the greatest play youll see all year.
If thats not on top three plays and No. 1, I dont know what is, Jackson said. Got me out of a big inning and a big jam.
Laureano raced out to deep center on a ball that was crushed by Justin Upton, tracked down the ball on the run as he nearly touched the wall, slowed himself down, and took a few crow hops to firmly position his feet to the ground before firing a bullet to Mark Canha at first base to double up a speedy Eric Young Jr and end the inning.
Jackson, in appreciation, made sure to wave his cap towards Laureano from the mound shortly after.
Its hard to pinpoint the most impressive part of this play, because everything about it was ridiculous.
Laureano had no business even getting to this ball. Then, to be able to stop himself in his tracks and fire off such a perfect throw from the warning track, which was clocked at a speed of 91.2 mph and traveled 321 feet in the air, is just insane.
First of all he goes so far to get it. Youre thinking just hit one of the cut off men that are lined up to first base, and he didnt need any of them, As manager Bob Melvin said. When he first threw it, youre like, No! and next thing you know it hits Canha chest-high. Pretty spectacular.
According to Statcast, Laureano traveled 80 feet just to get to the ball, with a 37 percent probability of actually making the catch. Top that off with an incredible balance act to stay on his feet, this may have been the best play you will see all year by an outfielder.
Yoenis Cespedes was known for for firing off some missiles from center field in his time with Oakland, including one Melvin remembered from the left field corner back in 2014 when gunned down Howie Kendrick, which also happened in Anaheim. but this throw by a rookie may have topped them all.
You may have seen some catches that were better, I guess maybe see some throws that are better, Melvin said. But the distance he threw it with the accuracy all the way around was about as good as it gets.
Laureano even surprised himself with the play. Initially, he thought he would have to dive for the ball, let alone have a chance to actually nail Young at first.
The catch, I knew I had made it before. But the throw was pretty crazy, Laureano said. I dont know what to say. It was a crazy moment. I was shocked.
Semien, one of those cut off men lined up in shallow center expecting to receive the throw from Laureano, could not recall seeing a better throw over his baseball career at any level.
Thats the best throw Ive ever seen. At least the farthest throw Ive ever seen, Semien said. I was ready to be the cutoff man and he probably didnt even see me there. Just an awesome play all around.
The As lineup is already dangerous as it currently stands. But if Marcus Semien can start hitting like this again, theres no telling how much of a boost that would be in these final two months of the playoff push.
After a power drought that lasted nearly two months, Semien busted out with two home runs.
Semiens three-run homer to put the As (69-48) ahead 4-0 in the second off Tyler Skaggs was the shortstops first home run since June 17, which also came against the Angels back at the Coliseum.
Perhaps its no surprise Semien broke out of his slump against the Angels. He entered the night with 11 career home runs against the Angels over, his most against any team. After a slow start to the month of August in which he was hitting just .240 with no extra-base hits, all three of Semiens hits went for extra bases as he finished 3 for 5 with the two homers, a double and four RBIs.
This place was a pretty good place to hit tonight with the heat, I was just a little bit more aggressive trying to get the ball closer to me and not chase away on Skaggs, Semien. He gave me a couple of pitches to hit.
The breakout game from Semien did not overshadow what was Edwin Jacksons finest start with the As so far this season.
Jackson pitched into the eighth inning and even recorded an out, something that hasnt been by an As starter since Sean Manaea went 7 1/3 against Kansas City back on June 10.
The right-hander departed to a standing ovation from the many As fans sitting behind the dugout who made the trek down to Southern California, finishing off his third consecutive start in which he has not given up an earned run. Jackson allowed just three hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings of work, now making it no earned runs in his last 19 1/3 innings pitched. He improved to 4-2 on the season with his ERA now down to 2.48 in nine starts this season.
But as good as Jackson was, even he couldnt wait to talk about Laureanos throw afterwards. Having played with Laureano a bit with Triple-A shortly after signing his minor league deal earlier this season, Jackson was not as surprised by the play as the rest of his teammates were. He said it was almost a regularity down in the minors.
Hes a game changer, Jackson said. Ive seen him make a play similar to that when I was in Nashville, so I knew he had it in him. But man, if those plays dont get you fired up, then I dont know what does as a pitcher. Hes a playmaker and Im sure youll see much more of that out of him.
Khris Davis launched a solo homer to right off Skaggs in the third, his 34th of the season and 13th in the last 18 games.