The Red Sox picked up a series win in Oakland Wednesday afternoon in a 2-0 game that, at the end of the day, really didn't make a whole lot of sense.
Wade Miley and Sonny Gray started Wednesday's game. Presented without identification, here's how their days went:
Walked the first two batters he faced on nine pitches, couldn't locate his fastball at all, struck out one batter, allowed a good number of long fly balls, never had a full inning without a baserunner.
Struck out nine, walked none, allowed three hits (all of them singles) in seven innings of work.
In what world does the first pitcher ever beat the second? This one, apparently. Pitcher A is, of course, Wade Miley, who "earned" the W. Pitcher B is Sonny Gray, who walked away with the loss.
The difficulties faced by Wade Miley thus far have been pretty surprising. Even those who did not enter the year with high expectations for the former Diamondback could not have foreseen the sort of disaster his first handful of outings would produce. Over the last couple of games, though, Miley seemed to be figuring things out. He was looking competitive, if not entirely impressive, and if he could avoid the two-homer blip that came against Toronto then the Red Sox might well get the man they traded for in the end.
Soemhow, though, his best game this season by results came on one of his worst days when it came to actually throwing the ball in a Red Sox uniform. If there's one constant with Miley, it seems to be that he's damn hard to figure out.
In fairness to Miley, there's something to be said for how he approached the game after his two-walk start. With his fastball sending catcher Sandy Leon over all known creation and bouncing in about as often as not, Miley leaned on his off-speed offerings to stay alive in the count. With the Athletics able to sit back and wait, they did manage a fair bit of hard contact. Some of that ended up as extra base hits, others as long fly balls, but none of them quite got out, and that at least gave Miley a chance.
He made the best of it. Every new jam was met with just the right outs in just the right order to keep the Athletics off the board. To his credit, Miley missed low rather than high, and with Leon up to the task of blocking the worst of it, the Athletics were unable to completely tee off on the pitches that might otherwise have missed just enough to be dangerous. Some strong defense from Pablo Sandoval proved the finishing touch on the most surprising 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball this team has seen in a long while.
Still, Wade Miley had no business staying in lock step with Sonny Gray, who looked legitimately dominant against the Red Sox and even had the help of some insane defense from Coco Crisp. Of Boston's hitters, only three managed to even reach base, but those three provided just enough. In the second, it was Hanley Ramirez shooting a single through the right side of the infield and then scoring when Daniel Nava broke a lengthy slump with the most perfectly-placed of bloops to left. That single may have gotten him going, too, as he led off the eighth with a second hit, then scored himself when Dustin Pedroia hit a ground ball that forced Marcus Semien into a desperation throw to first that missed the mark.
Taken in snippets, you would have guessed this game ended 6-0 in favor of the Athletics. But taken as a whole, Wade Miley produced a Houdini act worthy of 2008 Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Boston's nickel-and-dime runs were all the backing he needed. That, and seven well-pitched outs from Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.
The Red Sox have, through one miracle or another, now won three of their last four, and taken a series besides. They'll look to keep the ball rolling in Seattle.