Red Sox, meet Brett Anderson, the perfect pitcher to put a halt to your winning streak.
This is not by any means exaggeration or hyperbole. If a team was in Game 7 of the World Series against this 2011 Red Sox team, all considerations of pressure and "big game experience" aside, they would be hard pressed to find a better arm for the job than Brett Anderson. Coming into Tuesday's game, he had held current Red Sox to a combined OPS under .400. It's hard to imagine that number has changed much after eight shutout innings
The Red Sox were completely at Anderson's mercy almost all night. Aside from a long Adrian Gonzalez single off the wall and a walk to Dustin Pedroia, Anderson didn't allow a baserunner in the first seven innings, with the only other runner reaching on an error by Deric Barton and quickly finding himself erased by a double play. Even Dustin Pedroia's walk ended up serving Oakland's purposes, as Dustin Pedroia was picked off trying to steal second by what he adamantly insisted was a balk. In the ensuing argument with the umpire, Terry Francona was quickly tossed from the game.
The only time the Red Sox really had a chance to break through came in the eighth, and even that went entirely wrong. With David Ortiz leading off the inning with a single against the tiring Anderson, the Red Sox sent in Jacoby Ellsbury to run the bases. As Ellsbury took off, Mike Cameron struck out on a 3-2 pitch, and stumbled in front of home plate and the catcher, being called for interference in the process. The resulting out at second would prove all-too-costly, as Carl Crawford and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ensuing back-to-back singles would undoubtedly have scored Ellsbury to tie the game.
Instead, facing a 0-1 deficit in the eighth, Dan Wheeler and Hideki Okajima received the call rather than, say, Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard, or even Alfredo Aceves. Wheeler had already shouldered the burden in the seventh, and after giving up a quick double gave way to Okajima, who in turn quickly gave way to old habits and four Oakland runs. The 5-0 deficit was quite impossible to overcome, and the Red Sox found the first effective start from John Lackey wasted.