Joe Maddon was wishing Wednesday that the wheels of justice at Major League Baseball headquarters were moving faster.
Ramon Laureano, the Oakland A’s’ defensive wiz in center fielder, has been suspended for six games for his part in a brawl Sunday with Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron.
But with the appeal of his suspension still active as of game time Wednesday afternoon, Laureano was still a free man to play in the series finale between the Oakland and the Angels in Anaheim.
And Laureano played a huge role in the A’s 8-4 win at Angels Stadium — to the point that the Angels might have won the game had Laureano not been on the field.
“Obviously I wish he’s started serving his suspension today,” Maddon said after the game.
One of MLB’s premier defensive center fielders, Laureano robbed Brian Goodwin of a potential game-tying home run in the seventh inning, timing his jump perfectly to snare a ball that Goodwin drilled 398 feet.
Said Maddon: “Those were great plays. (Laureano) is a good baseball player. He swings the bat well, works good at-bats, doesn’t chase, he’s good on defense. Caught that ball over the wall.
“He was probably the biggest difference in today’s game.”
The next inning, Laureano ripped a clutch two-out, two-run single to give Oakland some insurance runs as the Angels tried to claw back.
Four runs — two taken away by Laureano, two produced by Laureano — were the difference on the scoreboard.
Of course, none of the Angels were making excuses after dropping to 7-12. The Halos had won the two previous games, in a 10-9 slugfest on Monday and 6-0 behind Dylan Bundy’s brilliant pitching.
Truth be told, young right-hander Griffin Canning had nothing of the command on the mound that Bundy showed the day before.
Canning was falling behind early in counts and paid the price as the A’s hit three home runs off him. And he got hit hard, too — giving up nine batted balls that were scorched at more than 95 mph off the bat, as per Statcast.
It added up to five extra-base hits for the A’s, who got four runs on six hits off Canning, whose ERA rose to 4.42.
Canning said afterward he would look at video to see if he may have been tipping off his pitches, because he noticed he A’s taking a lot of pitches he would have expected them to bite on.
“Honestly I felt like I had some of the better stuff I had this year,” said Canning. “But I thought they did a good job laying off some good sliders that were down and away … maybe they executed a game plan better than I did today.”
Canning hung a slider to Oakland first baseman Matt Olson in the first, and Olson drove it 454 feet, estimated by Statcast, deep into the tunnel in the right-field corner where the old Angels bullpen used to be.
Angels superstar Mike Trout matched Olson with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the first, and opposite field shot into the right-field terrace seats. It was Trout’s eighth homer of the young season.
Trout has hit seven homers since returning to the team on August 4 after the birth of his son, Beckham Aaron Trout.
The A’s went up 3-1 in the second after a Mark Canha double which was chased by Robbie Grossman’s two-run homer.
Angels second baseman Tommy La Stella added an RBI single and Trout a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3 in the third.
But a fourth-inning line-drive homer to left field by Stephen Piscotty and Matt Chapman’s RBI double in the fifth sealed Canning’s, and the Angels’ fate.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon homered for the third time in as many days with a solo shot that narrowed the deficit to 5-4 in the sixth.
But thanks to Laureano’s heroics with the glove and bat, the Angels never got any closer.
The Angels have now scored 64% of all their runs this season via the long ball as they hit 10 homers over the course of a three-game series for the first time.
Maddon would like to keep the power surge going as the crosstown rival powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers arrive in town after Thursday’s off day for a three-game weekend series.