It took some time, but the Red Sox lost to the Oakland Athletics for the fourth straight time last night. After a rain delay that lasted approximately one hour and 40 minutes, the Red Sox found themselves behind early once again.
Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, marking his eighth of the season. For the second time in a row, the lefty only lasted five innings on the mound, and despite not being as effective as he was last Wednesday in New York, he did a solid job of avoiding any major damage. In five full innings pitched, the native of Venezuela surrendered three runs on six hits, including a home run, to go along with no walks and four strikeouts. All three of those runs were scored over the first two innings, as Matt Chapman drove in a pair on a double in the first, and Stephen Piscotty mashed a solo home run over the Green Monster in the second.
For Piscotty, this home run is sure to be memorable. It’s his first one since he was activated from the bereavement list on Tuesday, as his mother passed away from ALS last week. Regardless of the result, it was a very cool moment to witness live.
Moving on, with his pitch count all the way up to 93 (53 strikes) through just five innings of work, Eduardo Rodriguez’s night would come to an end. He’ll look to build on this so-so performance next time out against the Baltimore Orioles this Sunday.
Rodriguez’s departure would make way for the return of Steven Wright in the seventh inning. Making his first big league appearance since April 29th of last season, I was curious to see how the knuckeballer would perform in his new role out of the Red Sox bullpen. In his first two innings of work, Wright certainly was not all that effective, but he held the Athletics scoreless over that stretch. He came back out to start the eighth inning as well, but that was probably a mistake.
After getting the leadoff man Jed Lowrie to ground out, Wright gave up two consecutive singles to put runners on first and second with just one out. That would be all for the California native, as he would later be charged with two earned runs when the base runners he was responsible for scored on a Mark Canha double.
Once Wirght departed, it was up to Bobby Poyner to get out of the eighth inning jam. Like Wright, Poyner had just been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket. As I just mentioned though, the lefty gave up a two-run double to the second batter he faced in Mark Canha, and that pretty much put this game out of reach.
Looking to keep it a one run game an inning later, Brian Johnson got the call for the ninth for the second straight win. Once again, Johnson did his job effectively. He held the A’s scoreless while tossing his second straight perfect inning in as many nights.
So, even with some newer additions from within, the Red Sox bullpen should still be an area of concern. Isn’t that right, Mr. Dombrowski?
Anyway, on the other side of things, The Red Sox lineup was held to just three runs last night. Similar to how he performed against them in Oakland, A’s starter Daniel Mengden pitched well against the Red Sox for the second time this season. He held them to just to runs, one of which was earned, over six innings pitched. The Athletics bullpen followed suit by tossing three innings of one run ball.
Trailing 3-0 essentially from the get go, the Red Sox had a chance to tack on a run in their half of the first. Unfortunately for them, a base running gaff from Andrew Benintendi as he was unwisely rounding third base cost them that chance.
Fast forward to the fourth, Mitch Moreland plated the first run of the game for the Red Sox on an RBI ground out that scored JD Martinez from third. This would not have been possible if, when Martinez led the inning off, Matt Chapman did not commit an error while making an errant throw to first base from third. Since the ball ended up out of play, Martinez was awarded second base, and he would eventually score in the inning.
An inning later, Andrew Benintendi redeemed himself from that base running blunder he made earlier by mashing his third home run of the season into the bleachers in right field.
That 437 foot bomb pulled the Red Sox within one run before the A’s pulled away in the eighth. Later in the ninth, down to their last three outs, it looked like a late night rally was about to be staged.
Rafael Devers led things off by reaching first on a strikeout. Pinch hitting for Christian Vazquez, Brock Holt followed that up by ripping a double to left field to put runners on second and third with no outs. With the top of the lineup now at the plate, I was thinking walk off. Instead, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez were retired in order. Devers did cross the plate to make it a two run game, but that would be all the Red Sox could muster in the final frame.
On the bright side of things, Andrew Benintendi is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak. Over that stretch, the Red Sox outfielder is slashing .308/.372/.538 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Having dropped their last two games, Chris Sale will have the opportunity to be the stopper later tonight. He’ll be matched up against A’s righty Trevor Cahill in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.