TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run double and the Oakland Athletics defeated the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Sunday.
Cespedes, who hit 26 homers with 80 RBIs last year, lined his hit in the fifth off Joe Blanton. Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson singled earlier in the inning.
Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA last season. He gave up two runs and three hits with a walk in 2 1-3 innings. He finished strong in his first appearance of the spring, retiring the last six hitters.
“His fastball-change-up combo was working,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Angels star Albert Pujols went 0 for 3. He struck out, fouled out and grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
Hector Santiago, one of three starters competing for two open spots at the back end of the rotation, worked 2 2-3 innings and allowed one unearned run with one hit, two walks and three strikeouts.
Santiago has a screwball that Scioscia called “nasty.” Santiago said he threw four screwballs, all with good results.
Athletics’ starter Jesse Chavez allowed one hit with a walk and two strikeouts in 2 2-3 innings in his second spring start.
Angels: Scioscia was impressed with Blanton’s outing.
“You can see him staying closed a little better,” Scioscia said. “He’s hiding the ball better. He’s worked hard.”
Blanton is on the last year of a contract that pays him $7.5 million this season with a $1 million buyout clause. Scioscia hinted this week that Blanton would have to make the club as a starter and he is not likely to keep a long reliever.
Santiago said he threw four screwballs, getting a ground ball and three fruitless swings, one for a strikeout.
“Four for four was a good day,” said Santiago, who said he wants to throw more screwballs than he did last year with the Chicago White Sox when he went 4-9 with a 3.56 ERA. “Last year I’d throw four in seven innings. Last year I wanted to throw more. (Angels catcher) Chris (Iannetta) looks like he’s going to be calling it, which I’m glad for.”
Santiago came over to the Angels along with left-hander Tyler Skaggs in the three-way deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona.
“I had a lot of energy,” Santiago said. “I wanted to get off on the right foot.”
Athletics: Manager Bob Melvin likes what Chavez can do for Oakland.
“He really found his way with us last year,” Melvin said of Chavez, who went 2-4 with one save and a 3.92 ERA in 35 games in 2013. “He pitched the way we heard he had in the minor leagues. He has four pitches, he pitches in relief and as a starter, and those guys are hard to find.”
GAME WITHIN THE GAME
Pujols came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth with the Angels trailing 3-0. Left-hander Joe Savery got a called strike to make the count 0-2. After a low pitch, the former first-round pick got Pujols to lunge for a low pitch and bounce into a third-to-first double play to end the inning.
Pujols held a prearranged postgame chat with the media Sunday and said his main mission this spring is to stay healthy.
The three-time NL MVP was limited to a career low 99 games last season due to a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
“I know I’ll be ready for Opening Day,” Pujols said. “I’ve been doing it for 14 years. I know not to try to do too much.”
Pujols is not focusing on his numbers and has not projected how many games he would play at first base.
“I think if there’s a day I need to DH, I’ll DH,” Pujols said. “If I need a day off, I’ll take a day off. I wish I’d have done that more earlier in my career. Because of the last couple of years I’m trying to be Superman and trying to play 162 games. It’s cost me the last couple of years.”
Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels after the 2011 season, his 10th with St. Louis. He hit 30 homers and drove in 105 RBIs in 2012 after a slow start. Last year, in 99 games, the fewest of his career, he hit 17 homers and drove in 64 runs. The Angels failed to make the playoffs both seasons.
“(Two seasons ago) on one leg, I hit 30 homers and 110 RBIs,” Pujols said, noting that he didn’t homer at the beginning and end of the season. “I could easily hit 40-plus homers if I had decent Septembers and Aprils. Last year I was probably going to hit 30 homers again.”
He bristled slightly when a reporter asked if he was motivated by the numbers of young teammate Mike Trout.
“I don’t need to compare with anybody, buddy,” Pujols said. “Just look at my numbers. My job is to stay healthy and go out there to play. I don’t need anybody to motivate me to play this game.”