Recapping a game between the Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics feels a lot like recapping a high school reunion—everybody's trying to simultaneously catch up with old friends they don't get to see that often, while also trying to strut their stuff and prove that they shouldn't have been cast aside in the first place. It's also just about the only game where you can't really feel that bad if the other team somehow manages to eke out a victory. (Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the Athletics are an above-cromulent team this year!)
The Red Sox offense cooled down a bit—perhaps that's inevitable, given the extreme wackiness of what transpired at Safeco, which this week saw more runs than a food poisoning epidemic at a Taco Bell. The Red Sox managed to eke out only a single against Jarrod Parker in the first inning, but had a bit more success in the second. Mike Napoli singled and got an extra base thanks to an Oakland fielding error. Daniel Nava would reach base by yet again taking one for the team, getting hit by a pitch for the third time in four games. (Note to the rest of MLB: Please do not break Daniel Nava. We need him.) The aforementioned pitch would deflect off of Nava's back and straight into the facemask of umpire C. B. Bucknor, who had to leave the game. The HBP would prove costly for the Athletics three batters later, when the number nine hitter in the lineup, Brock Holt, would score both Napoli and Nava on a single to center. He himself would make it to third base courtesy of an Astros-worthy defensive disaster by the A's, with the ball going everywhere except where it needed to be.
The game would quiet down after that, as both Jarrod Parker and John Lackey pitch seven strong innings today. Lackey would have only a few disappointing blips on his record for the day—in the fifth inning, when a double to Seth Smith and a John Jaso single led to a run. The Sox would get out of further trouble with a sweet double play started by Dustin Pedroia. The Athleticss would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Jed Lowrie led off with a long home run to right field. (Hey, Athletics: we'll trade you Jed Lowrie for Stephen Drew, straight up. OK with you guys? No? Dammit.)
John Lackey's line for the night: five Oakland K's, four free passes, three measly hits, two earned runs, and a home run to Jed Lowrie.
(I'm sorry. It had to be done.)
Unfortunately for the Athletics, Jarrod Parker could only pitch seven innings instead of nine, and you could argue was even better than Lackey on this night, as he didn't have any walks on the night. His replacement, Sean Doolittle, did a little too much on this evening, allowing Iglesias to reach on a single, and hitting Shane Victorino with a pitch as well. (Note to MLB: Please don't break Shane Victorino, either.) This would set the stage for the Small Father, who would gave us this day his daily laser, and indeed spared us from extra innings. His single, perfectly placed in left field, brought in both Iglesias and Victorino, and made the score 4-2.
Having the lead, the Red Sox's bullpen did their job, with only an Andrew Bailey walk to John Jaso spoiling two outstanding innings. Bailey would notch two punchouts, while Koji Uehara needed an un-Uehara-like fourteen pitches in the ninth, but struck out all three Athletics batters to put a cap on an all-around good game against one of the AL's best teams. Not only that, but it ensured that the Red Sox would come out no worse than even on this ten-game West Coast trip. (How much more successful they should be, however, is an open question.)