Records can be deceiving, as the A’s are finding out this weekend at Fenway Park.
The Boston Red Sox, who entered this series at three games under .500, took it to Oakland for the second day in a row with Saturday’s 6-3 victory. The A’s made it very interesting with three runs in the ninth. But they were fighting an uphill battle from the moment former Athletic Jonny Gomes connected for a first-inning grand slam off Tommy Milone.
It was the second day in a row Oakland pitching has surrendered a grand slam, and it was more than enough support for Sox lefty Jon Lester (3-4), who absolutely dominated with 15 strikeouts over eight shutout innings. That set a Red Sox franchise record for most strikeouts ever against the A’s.
The A’s arrived in Beantown riding high after a sweep of the Texas Rangers, but the American League West leaders have hardly resembled their early-season form at the plate or on the mound the past two days.
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Oakland averaged 6.9 runs over the first eight games of this road trip, but they’ve mustered just four runs and nine hits combined over the first two games of this series.
The bigger immediate concern, however, is the back end of the A’s rotation. Dan Straily struggled Friday and has looked shaky of late. On Saturday, Milone (0-3) served up three home runs and walked four over just four innings. His ERA sits at 5.86 through five starts.
Starting pitching report
Things started rocky for Milone and didn’t get much better. He gave up two walks and a single to his first three batters. With the bases loaded and one out, Jonny Gomes jumped on the first pitch from Milone and lined it over the Green Monster for his fifth career grand slam. David Ortiz led off the bottom of the third with a solo shot deep to right-center. Then in the fourth, Milone gave up another solo homer to No. 9 hitter David Ross. In two career starts at Fenway, the lefty has given up six homers total.
Dan Otero, who had experienced some turbulence over his past two outings, turned in two scoreless innings and generally looked much sharper. Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle both turned in shutout innings of their own.
At the plate
After Lester left the game, the A’s made things very interesting in the top of the ninth. They scored three runs and brought the tying run the plate multiple times. But with runners on second and third, Boston closer Koji Uehara struck out Alberto Callaspo and retired pinch hitter Brandon Moss on a line out to right to end it.
In the field
The Red Sox fielders certainly didn’t have to work very hard through eight innings with Lester on the mound. But in the ninth, a throwing error from Ross, the catcher, allowed one of the Oakland runs to score.
The Red Sox announced a paid attendence of 37,042.
Coming off his first career shutout, Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.76) tries to help the A’s avoid a sweep in Sunday’s 10:35 a.m. road trip finale. He’ll oppose John Lackey (4-2, 3.83).