By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Red Sox moved on from Anaheim and headed up to the Bay Area over the weekend to see if they could continue their torrid pace. Unfortunatley, after things went well on Friday night, the Red Sox dropped the last two games of the series to the Oakland Athletics and lost their first series of the year. They also left the west coast on their first losing streak of the season. Let's start at the beginning, to see how the whole thing unfolded.
On Friday night, the Sox sent lefty Drew Pomeranz to the hill for his first start of the season. He'd been rehabbing for a strained forearm flexor that he suffered in spring training and although it was great to get reinforcements, it was tough to know how he'd fare. Things looked bad in his first inning, as he gave up three runs to Oakland right out of the gate. After getting the leadoff hitter to ground out, Pomeranz walked Stephen Piscotty and then allowed an RBI double to the red hot Jed Lowrie to make it 1-0. Pomeranz struck out Khris Davis and Matt Chapman, but Chapman reached first when the third strike got away from Christian Vazquez behind the plate. The next batter, Matt Olson, smacked an RBI single to left to make it 2-0. After a mound visit, Mark Canha shot an RBI single to right to give the A's their third run of the inning. Pomeranz had struggled, but he worked out of it.
Pitching for Oakland was Kendall Graveman. The 27-year-old righty gave all three of the runs back in the top of the second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. three-run shot with one out and Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez on base. Both pitchers settled in, but Pomeranz was done after throwing 87 pitches in three and two-thirds innings. He gave up the three runs on five hits and two walks, but struck out seven batters. It wasn't the best start, but there were some encouraging signs to take and move forward. He was replaced by Hector Velazquez.
Graveman pitched into the sixth, but allowed singles to Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez to load the bases at the beginning of the frame. He was pulled for Emilio Pagan, but the book was not closed on his day. During the pitching change, Mitch Moreland could be seen with the Red Sox coaches in the dugout going over what to expect in the upcoming at-bat. Apparently the research they had done was very good because Moreland unloaded on the first pitch, a hanging slider, for a grand slam. It was the Sox fifth slam of the season, which is the most through this amount of games in MLB history. Graveman's final line was five innings pitched, six runs on seven hits, no walks and six Ks. The Sox had taken a 7-3 lead and that score would hold the rest of the way. Graveman took the loss to drop to 0-4 while Velazquez grabbed the win to improve to 3-0. Boston was 17-2 and could not be stopped.
On Saturday, it seemed like another win was almost a certainty. Chris Sale would be pitching for the Sox against Sean Manaea for the A's. Little did we know, Manaea would be the real ace on this night. In the bottom of the first, Sale walked Marcus Semien to lead off the game. After a strikeout, Semien stole second and then scored on an RBI double by Lowrie. That would be all Oakland needed on offense all night.
In the third, Semien singled with one out and then scored on a double by Piscotty to make it 2-0. Finally, in the fifth Semien launched a home run off of Sale to really put an emphasis on his big day. Meanwhile, the high-powered Red Sox offense was silent. They had zero hits and people around the country were starting to take notice. In the top of the fifth, Sandy Leon had lofted a flair into the shallow outfield which Semien chased but ultimatley dropped. It was an extremely difficult play that would have been an awesome over-the-shoulder catch, so naturally this was a hit. Nope, the hometown ruling kept the no-no intact and charged Semien with an error. There was no doubt that this was the wrong call.
In the sixth, there was more controversy. Andrew Benintendi grounded down the first base line to Matt Olson and hustled trying to beat him to the bag. Olson dove at Benny, who lunged maybe a foot or so to the right to avoid the collision and the tag. Benintendi dove into first and was safe, or was he? The umpires ruled that Benintendi had ventured too far out of the baseline and that he was out. This was another comical call and everyone knows that it would have gone the other way had their not been a no-hitter going on.
At the end, Manaea got through the Sox lineup in an impressive fashion and had the no-no for Oakland. I'll say he deserves credit for doing what he did, despite the fact that I will always believe it was actually just a two-hitter. Anyway, he held down the Sox offense and they would have lost either way. Manaea's final line was nine innings pitched, no hits, no runs, two walks and ten strikeouts. He outdueled Chris Sale, who went seven innings while giving up three runs on six hits, a walk and ten Ks. Manaea obviously picked up the win and Sale was hit with the loss. Boston had their win streak snapped and was 17-3.
It always stinks getting no-hit, but I suppose it feels a little better when the team has been historically good so far. All they'd have to do is bounce back and win the rubber game of the series to move on in a positive way. David Price was taking the ball against Daniel Mengden, so it was easy to feel good about Boston's chances on Sunday afternoon. Well, that didn't last that long as Price let Semien double to lead off the bottom of the first, and then score on a two-out RBI single by Khris Davis.
The lefty settled in and dueled with Mengden for much of the day. The Oakland pitcher with the Rollie Fingers inspired mustache went all the way into the seventh before he got into any trouble. Moreland led off the frame with a single, and Devers smacked a base hit of his own. When Blake Swihart grounded to the catcher, Moreland was gunned out at third and Boston was stuck with runners on first and second. Brock Holt doubled to tie the game and chased Mengden. His final line was six and a third innings pitched, one run on six hits and five punchouts.
When Price went back out for the eighth, it felt like trouble could possibly be brewing. The A's put together two one-out singles and then Khris Davis launched a three-run bomb with two outs to put Oakland ahead for good at 4-1. Price was done, and he'd been left in a little too long. His final line was seven and two thirds innings pitched, four runs on nine hits, one walk and six strikeouts. That was it, as Boston couldn't get anything going to tie the game in the ninth. The Sox had lost two straight for the first time and were now 17-4. Price took the loss while Blake Treinen was the victor.
Boston headed back east after the game and had Monday off to take in a Bruins-Maple Leafs playoff game in Toronto. They started their series with the Blue Jays tonight.