Kiké Hernández’s clutch 10th inning propels Red Sox to 3-2 win over Athletics

The Red Sox did not let a cross-country flight disrupt their winning ways, as they opened up their six-game West Coast road trip with a 3-2 victory over the Athletics in 10 innings at the Oakland Coliseum on Friday night.

With the extra-innings win, Boston extended its winning streak to eight consecutive games while improving to 52-31 on the season. They also moved to four full games ahead of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Eduardo Rodriguez made his 16th start of the season for the Sox on Friday, and, for the third straight time out, thoroughly impressed.

Over six strong innings of work, the left-hander kept the A’s off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and two walks to go along with six strikeouts on the evening.

Oakland did threaten in their half of the second, as Chad Pinder reached first on a throwing error from third baseman Marwin Gonzalez and moved up to third on a Frank Schwindel single, but Rodriguez was able to punch out Tony Kemp on four pitches to end the inning and strand the runner 90 feet from home plate.

From that point forward, Rodriguez retired 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced and put the finishing touches on a stellar outing by striking out the dangerous Matt Olson on a foul tip to end things in the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (57 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 29% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings-and-misses and topping out at 94.5 mph with the pitch.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision, Rodriguez did at least lower his ERA on the season to 5.42. His next start should come against the Angels in Anaheim on Wednesday.

While Rodriguez was in the process of putting up six scoreless frames, the Red Sox lineup was having offensive struggles of their own against Athletics starter — and former Boston farmhand — Frankie Montas.

Rafael Devers, fresh off being named to his first All-Star team, got his side on the board first in the fourth inning by driving in his fellow All-Star Xander Bogaerts on a hard-hit RBI double that eluded a diving Tony Kemp in right field.

Alex Verdugo followed suit an inning later, as he plated Danny Santana on a two-out run-scoring single down the left field line.

That gave the Sox a 2-0 lead, but they did have further opportunities to add on to that, particularly in their half of the sixth.

There, the bases were loaded with two outs for Michael Chavis, who was about to face newly-inserted A’s reliever J.B. Wendelken for the first time. Chavis swung at the first pitch he saw, which resulted in him popping out to foul territory to end the inning.

After the Boston bats went down in order in the seventh, Garrett Whitlock got the first call out of the bullpen in relief of Rodriguez.

The right-hander served up a solo home run to old friend Jed Lowrie to cut the lead in half, but then bounced back by striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

With a 2-1 lead to protect going into the last half of the ninth, Matt Barnes was next up, and he saw that one-run lead fade away when he gave up a game-tying homer to Elvis Andrus.

Going into extras deadlocked at 2-2, Chavis was placed at second base to begin things in the 10th, and he immediately came into score on a go-ahead RBI single off the bat of Kiké Hernandez.

Hernandez’s clutch hit would prove to be the game-winner, as the center fielder also made the defensive play of the night a half inning later by gunning down the potential tying run in the form of Seth Brown at home plate.

With Adam Ottavino on the mound and Brown at third base, Sean Murphy lifted a fly ball to Hernandez in center field. Hernandez caught it, gathered himself, and unleashed an absolute dart to Christian Vazquez to snuff out the runner, convert the double play, and preserve his side’s 3-2 advantage.

That highlight reel outfield assist was good for the second out of the inning, and Ottavino closed things out in the 10th by getting Schwindel to fly out to left field, which secured the 3-2 win for the Sox as well as his sixth save of the season.

Next up: Richards vs. Irvin

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Athletics on Saturday by sending right-hander Garrett Richards to the hill. Oakland will counter by turning to left-hander Cole Irvin.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Kiké Hernandez: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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