Well, that was frustrating. The Red Sox got their best start of the season to this point, with David Price making a few too many bad pitches that put him just short of a quality start but overall looked solid. Unfortunately, the offense was as bad as we’ve seen them in a very, very bad time. They sent more than three batters to the plate in only three innings over the entire game. Now, the offense was seemingly robbed of a run by the umpires early in the game, and maybe that changes things, but it’s tough to use that as an excuse. It was a terrible game against a pitcher who most figured would get crushed before the game started. That’ll happen, but within the context of this poor start to the season for the team it is extremely frustrating.
Over the first four games of the year in Seattle, the story for the Red Sox was obviously the poor performances from the starting pitching. That dominated the conversation and it led directly to all three losses in that opening series. On Monday, they moved on to Oakland and suddenly the offense had the horrible day. I do think their overall run output from Seattle does overplay their performance there a bit, as they left some chances on the table early in games that could have altered how the rest of those contests went. That being said, they looked a lot worse against Oakland starter Aaron Brooks than they did at any point in Seattle.
Brooks, to his credit, looked a lot better than I and probably anybody else expected. Remember, this is a guy who hadn’t started a game since 2015 and who had only made three relief appearances over the last two seasons. He didn’t really fit that profile on Monday, though, as his secondaries in particular were quite sharp. It also helped that the Red Sox were just totally off-balance all night long, either being frozen by pitches on the edges or swinging wildly at pitches far off those edges. It was ugly, is what I’m trying to say.
Really, there’s not much to say about the performance beyond that. The one early chance they did have against Brooks came in the second inning when Xander Bogaerts hit a one-out double on a good read to get to second base. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate, who did his job with a solid single on a line drive to center field. It seemed like a sure run, and at that point a sure 1-0 lead for the Red Sox. The Athletics have Ramón Laureano in center field, however, and he has one of the best arms in all of baseball, if not the best. He showed it off and then some here, throwing an absolute cannon with perfect accuracy to nail Bogaerts at the plate. Now, he appeared he may have been safe in real time and replay only made that case stronger, but the umpiring crew somehow upheld the call. It...was not great.
Besides that, though, Boston’s offense had absolutely nothing. They went down in order in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings. In the fifth they did get a walk from Moreland that was quickly cancelled out by an Eduardo Núñez double play. Hooray for small miracles?
On the other end of things, David Price did his job in reversing the trends of the Red Sox starting staff. Granted, the bar was set almost impossibly low, but Price did look very good out there in Oakland. He certainly wasn’t perfect and struggled with his command at times, but all in all he had all three pitches working, his velocity was impressive and his sequencing looked good.
Things got off to a perfect start for Price, too, though we saw good first innings from other Red Sox starters in Seattle. Still, Price was perfect here with a couple of strikeouts in a ten-pitch 1-2-3 inning. The second, right after the offense was seemingly robbed of a run, got off to a rougher start. Price made a truly bad pitch, leaving a changeup up right over the heart of the plate, to Khris Davis, who did what he does. That is to say he sent it into orbit, smashing a no-doubt solo shot out to straightaway center field to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.
Price came back from that homer and struck out the next three batters he faced. Unfortunately he came back out for the third and immediately made another mistake. This time it was Laureano, the hero from the top half of the second, who made him pay. The Red Sox southpaw this time tried a fastball but again left it right over the heart of the plate. Just like Davis before him, Laureano sent one way out over the wall in center field for Oakland’s second solo homer of the night. Just like that it was 2-0.
Price was solid after that home run, though he did have a couple of scares on long foul balls. He also gave up a double shortly after that Laureano home run, though the runner was stranded. There was a bit more trouble in the fourth as well when Oakland had two reach on a walk and a single, but again no more runs were added to the tally.
In the sixth, things got worse as the A’s were able to straighten out some of the hard contact. After a couple of quick outs it seemed Price was going to be able to make it through, and he got to a two-strike count against Mark Canha. He couldn’t get that final strike, though, and eventually walked him. Then, Price had to face Chad Pinder and made another bad pitch. This time it was a changeup up in the zone and Pinder sent it just over the big wall in left field for a two-run shot, suddenly doubling Oakland’s lead. Price did end the inning after that, and his night was over. In all it was a solid day with just a couple too many poor pitches. He allowed four runs, all on homers, over six innings with nine strikeouts, two walks and five hits.
So, with Price out of the game and the deficit now at four, the Red Sox offense had to get going against a very good Oakland bullpen. The Athletics called upon left-handed specialist Ryan Buchter to start the seventh with Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers set to lead off the inning.
Buchter did his job with two quick outs and that brought Liam Hendriks in to face J.D. Martinez, who gave Boston their first hit since the second inning with a single. Bogaerts followed that up with his second hit of the day and suddenly the Red Sox had something brewing. It wouldn’t last, though, as Moreland popped out to end the inning. That would be the last gasp of breath from the Red Sox offense, who went down easily in the final two innings.
As far as the Red Sox bullpen, Tyler Thornburg got the seventh and looked great in a 1-2-3 inning. Heath Hembree had the eighth and didn’t look quite as good. He allowed a solo home run to Matt Chapman to start the inning that was followed by an infield single, a throwing error from Rafael Devers, an RBI single and another RBI single. By the end of the inning, the A’s had opened up a seven-run lead and that was pretty much that.
The Red Sox will be back out looking for win number two as the second go around their rotation beings on Tuesday. Chris Sale will be taking the mound facing off against Mike Fiers, with first pitch scheduled for 10:07 PM ET.