ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout drifted to left-center field, following the path of a first-inning fly ball that carried farther than anyone expected, felt the warning track beneath his feet, timed his jump perfectly, made the catch, and for a brief moment, extracted a little revenge against Yoenis Cespedes, taking away a potential home run from the A's left fielder who has torched the Angels in every aspect this season.
"He's been swinging it, throwing it," Trout said after the Angels' 7-1 loss to the A's at home. "I think he's got like five assists against us. He played a great series, and every time we play him, it's tough."
Actually, it's four outfield assists, but that's still impressive. And the latest came in the sixth inning in the series finale, when Cespedes raced to the alley in the left-field corner, saw Albert Pujols' line drive ricochet past him, watched as the Angels' first baseman rounded second, trying to test his arm, and fired a missile to third baseman Josh Donaldson for the out.
Outfield assist leaders
"A perfect throw," Pujols said, one night after watching Cespedes misplay Trout's liner to shallow left field, then pick up the ball near the line and fire a 300-plus-foot strike to miraculously cut down Howie Kendrick at home plate.
"I think he's starting to do that on purpose, trying to bait runners to get that extra base," A's starter Tommy Milone said of Cespedes, who also threw two Angels runners out at home plate in the second inning at O.co Coliseum on May 31 -- without the need of a bobble.
"Obviously, [Cespedes] has a great arm," A's center fielder Coco Crisp said of a guy who leads the Major Leagues with nine assists. "Pujols is hustling, and it's another recovery play. That's a tough corner to play. Luckily, he has a cannon to be able to recover like that."
Earlier in the game, Crisp made a highlight-reel play of his own, skying over the center-field fence to take a home run away from Josh Hamilton to lead off the bottom of the second. It came so close to going out that a small batch of red fireworks shot out of the rock pile in center field, prompting Crisp to turn around and deploy a finger-wag that was notorious with a former NBA center.
"They popped the fireworks, suggesting it was a home run," Crisp said. "So I gave them a [Dikembe] Mutombo."
Trout's first-inning catch, which started all of this, was potentially his second home-run robbery of the season, after seemingly taking one away from Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Trout also robbed four home runs during his rookie season in 2012, the most famous being his catch against J.J. Hardy in Baltimore on June 27.
One common theme from the Hardy catch and Wednesday's: Jered Weaver was the beneficiary.
"Nothing he does surprises me anymore," the Angels' ace said of Trout. "He looked like he had a pretty good beat on it going into it and timed it perfectly. I was pretty surprised the ball traveled that far, to tell you the truth. It kind of sounded like he got it off the end of the bat, but he made a great play on it and definitely helped with the momentum there in the first."