In a marquis matchup between first place teams, the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox took to the field at O.co Coliseum to decide which team was the class of the American League as we head into the All-Star break. So far, it would appear as if the Red Sox have a leg up in that competition.
It was a rather ugly game for the Athletics, it started off as a defensive miscue by Josh Donaldson opened the door for the Red Sox to get on the board in the 2nd inning. A 2-run single by Brock Holt made the A’s and Jarrod Parker pay.
Jarrod Parker was especially sharp tonight, which made this loss that much more frustrating. After the Holt single. Parker retired the final 16 batters he faced. He allowed just 3 hits in his 7 innings of work without walking a batter, and he struck out 2. He was removed after throwing just 93 pitches and left it to the bullpen to keep the game tied at 2. His good work would be wasted.
The A’s got on the board in the 5th inning on a John Jaso RBI single, but the team had not gotten their first hit until Seth Smith doubled to lead off the inning against Red Sox starter John Lackey. The A’s had a chance for more than just the 1 run but a spectacular double play started by Dustin Pedroia on a ball scorched by Josh Donaldson abruptly ended the budding rally. Jed Lowrie led off the bottom of the 6th inning with a home run to even up the score.
The aforementioned bullpen that was tasked with holding the Red Sox at bey quite frankly failed miserably at that task. Sean Doolittle allowed a lead off single to Jose Iglesias, and after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, he hit Shane Victorino before being removed in favor of Ryan Cook. Victorino stole second base and was brought home along with Iglesias by Dustin Pedroia to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish. Andrew Bailey and Koji Uehara finished out the final two innings to seal the win for the Red Sox.
The A’s have now been held to 5 hits or less in 4 straight games, the longest such streak since 2001. Needless to say they have faced 4 quality pitchers, but the tough grinding at bats that they had become so proficient at have disappeared. They aren’t taking many quality at bats right now, and they must start doing that once again if they want to snap out of their offensive slumber. They’ve scored a total of 6 runs in the last 4 games, and luckily are 2-2.
It doesn’t get any easier tomorrow as they’ll have to contend with the tough lefty Jon Lester (8-5, 4.60) who hasn’t been at his best this season, but can shut down just about anyone on any given day. A.J. Griffin (7-6, 3.94ERA) will pitch for the A’s. The game will be picked up by the MLB Network, so they’ll once again have a chance to show what they can do on a national stage, let’s hope it goes a little better than the 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.