The Oakland Athletics seem to be living something of a charmed life this season—perhaps they're catching many of the breaks that the Red Sox managed to have last season. On Friday night in Oakland, the Red Sox lost again, in one of the most ignominious ways you could possibly fathom.
Felix Doubront's struggles this season continued Friday night, although most of the chaos came in the first inning, as Craig Gentry, Jed Lowrie, both put the ball in play, and Yoenis Cespedes all managed to earn a free pass. The free pass proved especially costly one batter later, as Josh Donaldson launched a fastball to left, and the Red Sox quickly found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
However, unlike their last four games, the Red Sox managed to post more than two runs—although just barely. Following a Mike Napoli single, AJ Placeholder struck out, but Jonny Gomes walked to put a runner in scoring position. Stephen Drew almost grounded into a double play to snuff out the threat, but a Nick Punto throwing error allowed Jonny Gomes to reach second safely and load the bases for Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a two-run single to narrow the gap to one run. Brock Holt, unfortunately, decided to make up for the lost double play, ending the inning. Worse still, he and number two hitter Xander Bogaerts were both hitless on the day, going a combined 0-for-8 in at bats, and only reached base courtesy of a hit-by-pitch to Holt and a walk to Bogaerts.
That walk to Bogaerts,, however, was a productive one for the Sox, as Pedroia managed to advance Bogaerts to second on a ground out, before David Ortiz brought him in to score on a single to right field. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a tie game. That was the good news. The bad news was that there was still six more innings to play, and the Red Sox managed to get nothing out of their efforts the rest of the way.
On a day when neither starter made it out of the fifth inning to become the pitcher of record, the Sox had their chances. In both the fourth and fifth innings, the Sox had a runner in scoring position—a Bradley walk and Holt's HBP in the fourth, and bases loaded courtesy of Pedroia and Ortiz singles and a Gmes walk—but apparently the big timely hit and the Red Sox continue their estrangement.
However, on the other hand, the Athletics were kept frustrated even longer, in spite of many chances to break the game open themselves.The A's had base runners in every inning except for a 1-2-3 second, and chased Doubront from the game with two out in the fifth. Burke Badenhop came into get Derek Norris out to end the fifth, and hung on for a solid sixth inning, marred only by a Kyle Blanks single. He clearly ran out of gas in the seventh inning, however, allowing singles to Lowrie and Cespedes, before a Donaldson grounder put runners on the corners with two outs. Andrew Miller came in for the last out of the seventh on a Stephen Vogt liner.
Miller would start the eighth inning, but after a Brandon Moss strikeout, proceeded to bean both Blanks and Alberto Callaspo, putting a runner in scoring position with only one out. Punto managed to strike out, but John Farrell left Miller in one batter too long, as former Red Sox Coco Crisp delivered the fatal blow, singling to right to score Blanks and give the A's a 4-3 lead. Sean Doolittle made quick work of the Sox in the ninth, as Bradley fouled out, and Holt and Bogaerts struck out swinging.
Ultimately, this was the kind of game that neither team really deserved to win. The only problem for the Sox was that the Athletics did slightly less to lose, and managed to eke out a win. The Red Sox can try to start to salvage a split of the four-game series with Rubby de la Rosa the probable starter on the mound Saturday afternoon.