By MyFM's Jake Archer - Every time I think the Red Sox have a shot to get on a roll this year, they just take another step backwards. This time, after sweeping the two-game set with St. Louis last week, the Sox dropped three in a row to the Oakland Athletics before salvaging the finale of the four-game series.
On Thursday night, the Sox sent spot-starter Hector Velasquez to the hill opposite Sonny Gray. With the A’s being a light hitting team in a big ballpark and Velasquez being an unknown, I thought that the Sox would be able to hold Oakland down. I also thought that the Sox could pounce on the struggling Gray, but boy was I wrong. Despite getting out to 2-0 lead in the top of the first, the Sox would give three right back.
Boston would eventually grab another run in the fourth to tie the game back up, but Velasquez would give three more back to Oakland in the bottom of the frame. The guy was pretty much a disaster as he only went five innings, giving up six runs on nine hits and two walks. He was out there throwing meatballs and I’m pretty sure that’s the last we’ll see of him with the big club.
On Friday, the Sox sent Chris Sale to the hill against Kendall Graveman. Anytime Sale pitches, you are expecting a win but in this case he just couldn’t get the run support again. The Sox did jump out to another 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on Mitch Moreland’s second homer in as many days, but Sale would give one back in the fifth and one back in the sixth. Other than those two runs, Sale was dominant again. He went seven innings, giving up seven hits and striking out 10 for the 8th straight game, tying an MLB record that he already shared with Pedro Martinez.
The Sox couldn’t scratch across any more runs however and they were beaten on a Mark Canha walk off homerun in the tenth inning. This was after Ryon Healy nearly walked it off for the A’s in the ninth but was robbed by an amazing Jackie Bradley Jr. catch.
Saturday saw Drew Pomeranz return to pitch for the Sox after a brief injury scare. He was going against Sean Manaea for the A’s. Boston took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game but the A’s answered right back with two of their own. The Sox would then score one in the fifth before Oakland piled on with six more runs over the rest of the game to run away with a win and move Boston back to .500 on the year. It was the first time Boston had lost three straight this season and things were getting ugly. They needed a win on Sunday badly.
Eduardo Rodriguez versus Andrew Triggs was the matchup in the series finale and the Sox set out to do whatever it took to win the game. Dustin Pedroia, who was scheduled for a day off, was in the lineup because John Farrell knew he needed all hands on deck to get back on track. For the fourth straight game, the Sox took a 2-0 lead and for the fourth straight game, the A’s answered back to take the lead.
It was 3-2 Oakland after 4 and the Sox had to make things happen. They pushed the envelope on the base paths and took advantage of some shoddy A’s defense to grab four more runs over the next two innings. When your team is last in the league in homeruns, you need to manufacture some runs and Boston did just that. They added one run in the eighth and five in the ninth to win 12-3. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched into the eighth inning and would have gone the whole way if not for the long wait in the ninth.
It was a bad series, but a good ending for the Sox in Oakland. They’ll have Monday off before opening up a home stand that will see the red-hot Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners come to play. Hopefully at some point here the Sox can start to roll because being one game over .500 at this point is pretty ridiculous.