Brock Holt, Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Here Come the Red Sox

In almost any other season, the Red Sox coming to town would mean a hard-fought series between two heavyweights of the American League. This season however, the Red Sox are struggling while the Athletics are in possession of the best record in baseball. That is not to say that this series will be easy. Here is our series preview.

The Red Sox are coming off of a series sweep of the Minnesota Twins. That’s good! On the season, the Sox are just 2.5 games up on the Astros. That’s bad.

Fortunately for the A’s, the Red Sox hottest pitcher is the only one that won’t pitch in Oakland. . On Wednesday, John Lackey went 9 innings and allowed just 3 hits. It’s telling of the Red Sox season that he pitched so well and still garnered a no-decision. The Boston won the game in extras.

Here are the pitching match-ups for this 4-game set:

Thursday: Peavy (1-4, 4.53) vs. Kazmir (8-2, 2.05)

Friday: Doubront (2-4, 5.12) vs. Chavez (6-4, 2.93)

Saturday: De La Rosa (2-2, 2.84) vs. Mills (0-0, 0.00)

Sunday: Lester (9-7, 3.20) vs. Milone (5-3, 3.56)

While the first two games seem like they should go the A’s way simply on ERA differential, both Saturday and Sunday’s contests should be tough. Quite frankly, we don’t know which Brad Mills will show up. Will it be the Mills that has a career 7.76 ERA in the bigs, or the Mills that is posting a 1.56 in Triple-A this season?

While Brad Mills has not been officially named the starter for Saturday, it has been widely speculated that he would take the spot of Drew Pomeranz until he returns.

Even with Milone pitching as well as he has been, Lester is a tough match-up. I’ll take a stab in the dark and say Stephen Vogt has a big hit off Lester on Sunday if he plays.

To gather a little more insight into the 2014 Red Sox, I talked briefly with Joe Meehan of BoSox Injection.

What can you tell us about Brock Holt? We keep hearing his name, but what’s he all about?

Brock Holt is the greatest baseball player who ever lived! That’s the answer you’d probably get if you asked this question to any Red Sox fan today. Since his promotion to the big leagues when Will Middlebrooks went down with an injury, he’s been a fan favorite, and everything the Red Sox have needed. He filled in at third with Middlebrooks hurt, played first when Mike Napoli went out and is now playing all outfield positions because the rest of our outfield couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. By the way, none of these are his natural position (second base) and he had never played in the outfield until about a week ago. He’s hitting .338 out of the leadoff spot, which was a major hole until his arrival. I’ve never seen someone step in and have this level of success without a set position; I just wish the rest of the team would feed off him and win some games.

What’s the biggest difference between the 2013 and 2014 Red Sox aside from their record?

That’s a tough one because there’s A LOT that’s been different this season. Health is certainly a big one; last year everyone was healthy and this year we’ve had about two games with a fully healthy lineup. But if I had to pick just one thing that’s been the biggest difference, I’d say it’s been the production of our big bats. Last season David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino all posted batting averages right around .300, and the team as a whole hit .278 with RISP. This season, besides Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts has the highest batting average at just under .280. With RISP, the team average is .236. The clutch, timely hitting just hasn’t been there.

Thanks, Joe. Best of luck to the Red Sox–starting on Monday.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Oakland Athletics

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