The Red Sox sent Clay Buchholz to the mound against Sonny Gray Monday night, and while it's a matchup which inspires little confidence, Boston seems to have caught Oakland's ace at just the right time.
Clay Buchholz...was not good tonight. But he also wasn't exactly bad. Strangely, even in allowing a run in the first, he gave some indication that he would prove capable of carrying over his strong start against the White Sox into this series against Oakland. The zone was tight--reasonably so, but Buchholz was not getting the borderline calls, and it led to a leadoff walk for Coco Crisp, which turned into a run when a high, shallow fly ball was pushed by the wind just fair down the left field line. It was an awkward moment for Brock Holt in the outfield, and the sort of contact that should be at worst a foul, and at best a routine inning-ending out. It ended up on the board, but generally Buchholz pitched well enough in the first to have gotten away unscathed.
The same was not true in the second and third, however. The A's started hitting the ball hard, and the Red Sox started to fall further behind. Oakland pushed across two runs in the second even with some good contact finding gloves, and then added another in the third when Khris Davis did to a middle-middle offering like any major leaguer should and dropped it into the Monster seats. Only a Travis Shaw double and a wild pitch from Sonny Gray kept the game from creeping into blowout territory.
But a blowout it would become. Just not for the Athletics. Sonny Gray has been allowing some big innings of late, and the Red Sox produced the biggest of them all on Monday night. David Ortiz got things started with a double, which coincidentally is also how he'd end it. But there was quite a bit of action in between. Hits from Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw were good to give the Red Sox their second run before Brock Holt went down on strikes to give Gray his first out of the inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. would bring them both in to score, tying things up before Christian Vazquez gave him Gray his second.
The third? That would go to Fernando Rodriguez, as Mookie Betts doubled Bradley home, then scored on a base knock from Dustin Pedroia. Gray's night finished with a walk to Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz welcomed Rodriguez to the game with his second double of the frame. End scene: 7-4, Red Sox.
So not quite a blowout yet, and with Buchholz returning for the fifth, it wasn't necessarily even all that comfortable a lead. But Buchholz managed a shutdown inning, and the Red Sox got right back to work at the plate, with Travis Shaw singling and Brock Holt smashing a line drive over a leaping Josh Reddick and into the bullpens for a two-run shot. Having sat for another long frame, Buchholz was lifted in favor of Tommy Layne, who got the Sox to the sixth where Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the pièce de résistance: a grand slam into the right field seats, scoring Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, and Brock Holt to make it 13-4.
The A's would get one run back off...well, off Jackie Bradley Jr., really, as he dropped an easy fly ball that should have been Carson Smith's third out to work around a one-out walk to Crisp. But if you're going to make an error, up nine a half-inning after your own grand slam is probably the time to do it. The Sox even got their own wind-aided run when a David Ortiz pop-up eluded Josh Phegley in the seventh to bring Josh Rutledge home. Heath Hembree would struggle some in the ninth, letting the A's make it 14-7, but by that point...who really cares?
Just a ridiculous game from a ridiculous lineup.