With the Angels using a defensive shift in the bottom of the fourth inning of Saturday’s 4-0 win over the A’s, third baseman Anthony Rendon was situated all the way over by the second-base bag when the A’s Matt Olson lofted a popup into foul territory.
If Rendon had been in his usual setup at the hot corner, it likely would have been a fairly routine play. Instead, as the only one on the left side of the infield, he needed to cover a whopping 113 feet to reach the ball.
But reach it, Rendon did. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he instinctively threw the ball across his body to shortstop David Fletcher who nabbed Tony Kemp — who had advanced to second on the popup but was caught off the second-base bag trying to advance again.
While manager Joe Maddon gave credit to Rendon for running it down, he also noted how the Coliseum might have given the 30-year-old more of a chance to make the play.
“There’s so much room there here that you can run with confidence, is about the best way I can describe it,” Maddon said. “You run in some other ballparks with a shorter wall; I don’t know if you have as much confidence to run as hard to get to it there, and try to time making the catch and running into a wall.
“That was a big play, that double play right there.”
Wong, sensing that Kemp was about to make a break for an extra base, sprinted over to cover third. When Kemp realized he would likely lose that foot race, he quickly turned around to go back to second. There, he came face-to-face with Fletcher, who easily tagged him out.
“[Wong] did exactly what you said, he influenced Tony off the bag,” Maddon said. “Right now, when you play with those two guys up the middle, they’re kind of like looking in the mirror at one another, him and David. They both are extremely instinctive baseball players.”
That defensive sequence provided a jolt for the Angels, who put together a four-run frame in the next half-inning, with contributions from Rendon, Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani.
It was also a boon for starter Alex Cobb, as one of three double plays the Angels turned behind him on Saturday. The righty, who tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts, acknowledged there was one other reason, in particular, that he was glad they were able to pull it off.
“I actually got caught sleeping there,” Cobb said. “My job when that play’s happening is to cover third, and I kinda got caught up in watching the play happen and was kinda surprised that [Kemp] was tagging on that play. … It all happened so quickly. It was nice to be on my side of that.”