The Red Sox and Athletics were matching up this week for a three-game set pitting against each other the only two teams in the American League with 20 victories entering action today. For Boston’s part, they were coming off a good weekend in Baltimore, although they missed their chance on a sweep on Monday. There was a questionable managerial decision mixed in there, but it was really the offense that did the most damage. Well, damage to the cause of winning. They didn’t do any damage at the plate, which was kinda the problem. Despite Nathan Eovaldi bouncing back with a really solid night, it wasn’t enough as the Red Sox dropped their second in a row.
On Tuesday, Boston was looking to get the offense back alive back at home, but they had a tough task ahead of them facing off against a very underrated pitcher in Chris Bassitt. It wasn’t a great night overall, but they did get some momentum going early with some big-time help from the Oakland pitcher.
But first it was Alex Verdugo kicking off the rally, as he has been putting together good at bats all year and did so again here. He reached on a single into center field, and then moved over to second base on a very wild pitch from Bassitt, who overthrew a slider way off the plate. And then he did the same thing just a couple pitches later, putting Verdugo on third. Now J.D. Martinez just needed a fly ball to put his team on the board, and he got exactly that. A sacrifice fly to right field put the Red Sox up 1-0 in the first inning.
So, that was a good start against Bassitt, who came into the day with an ERA not far over 3.00. They could not build on that momentum, as the A’s righty settled in in a big way. And when I say a big way, I mean in a perfect way. The Red Sox couldn’t manage a single baserunner over the next four innings, making it 14 in a row total going back to that first inning. Over those four innings he also struck out seven to put a bow on that dominance.
The good news for the Red Sox is that Nathan Eovaldi was up to the task of keeping the Athletics at arm’s length and giving his offense chance after chance to stay ahead in this game. Boston’s righty was nearly perfect in the early portion of the game, allowing just a walk over the first three innings to make the one-run first from the lineup enough to hold the lead.
In the fourth, though, the Athletics were able to get their first hit and they made the most of it. It was a walk that started the inning off, though, and then the runner moved up to second base on a ground ball. With a runner in scoring position — just the second runner to get that far for either side in the game — Matt Olson took away Eovaldi’s no-hit bid. He slapped one right through the shift on the right side and it was enough to allow Seth Brown to easily come around and score, tying the game at one run apiece. There was still only one out, too, but Eovaldi got a big ground ball back to the mound on which he made a nifty grab to start an inning-ending double play.
From there, he got another perfect inning in the fifth before getting into a bit more trouble in the sixth. That frame saw the first extra base hit for either side when Mark Canha smacked one off the Monster in left-center field for a one-out double. At this point Eovaldi was getting into the mid 90s with his pitch count, and Josh Taylor began warming. The starter could get out of his own jam, though. Eovaldi got a big strikeout for the second out of the inning before getting a ground out to end things, ending the inning, and his evening, with the game still tied up at one. Eovalidi allowed just the one run over six innings on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in a good bounce-back performance.
The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, was able to break up Bassitt’s perfect streak in the sixth with a one-out single, but that was all they got in the inning. So the game was still tied in the seventh as Darwinzon Hernandez took over for Eovaldi. Things didn’t go well for the southpaw, as he walked the first batter he faced before giving up a single out to left field to Jed Lowrie.
Olson was able to make it to third — I thought Franchy Cordero should have been able to cut him down for whatever it’s worth — and suddenly Oakland had a runners in scoring position with just one out. Things continued to get worse with Matt Chapman ripping a base hit through the left side, and the A’s took a 2-1 lead with a chance to add more. After the runners each moved up to scoring position on a ground out from Mitch Moreland, Hernandez was lifted with Adam Ottavino coming in.
He had a hell of a situation to inherit with a pair in scoring position, but he did get a quick first out at the plate. Elivs Andrus didn’t let him escape completely, though. Instead, he put a soft single into right field to bring home another run and make it a 3-1 game.
Now, it was up to the offense to find some life for the first time since Sunday. It looked like it was going to be another quick and quiet inning with the first two batters succumbing to Bassitt quickly, but then Rafael Devers had some other ideas. He jumped on the first pitch he saw, a two-seam righto over the plate, and drove it the other way. It made its way just up and over the wall into the Monster Seats for a solo shot, cutting the deficit back down to one.
Turning ahead to the eighth, it was Hirokazu Sawamura looking to make sure Oakland didn’t get that run right back. He did that job, getting through a scoreless inning to bring the offense back up for the bottom of the inning. They got an infield single from Michael Chavis, but that was it as they headed to the ninth still behind by a run. Sawamura then tossed another scoreless inning, giving the offense one last chance with their best bats coming up.
Thanks to some control issues from Jake Diekman, the Red Sox had some life. Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts each drew walks to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with Devers coming back up to the plate. He couldn’t repeat his last at bat, instead grounding into a fielder’s choice, leaving it up to Christian Vázquez with two outs and runners on the corners. He too failed to come through, popping out to end the inning, and the game. The 3-2 loss dropped the Red Sox down to 22-15 on the season.
The Red Sox will look to bounce back on Wednesday with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound. James Kaprielian takes the mound for Oakland, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.