Another day, another brutal struggle for the Red Sox offense, who have now had three straight bad games. That has corresponded with three straight losses, and tonight’s was the most frustrating. This wasn’t just a typical bad day for the offense where they just had nothing going. They had multiple chances, and not only didn’t score but found dumb ways to do it. Whether it was not sending a runner home when they probably should have, or multiple bad baserunning choices by guys who started plays at third base, they shot themselves in the foot. That’s not to take anything away from A’s pitching, because they were fine as well, but the Red Sox made their own bed here. And Eduardo Rodriguez was okay himself, though he balked in a run on a dumb play too. It was a really frustrating loss, is what I’m trying to say.
It’s been a frustrating couple of days for the Red Sox offense, who have been shut down in each of the last two games en route to losses for the team. After going up against Chris Bassitt on Tuesday, though, they seemed to have some chance at a bounce back effort against James Kaprielian. The righty has talent, but he was also making his first major-league start. In the series opener the night before, they scored one before going to sleep for the rest of the night.
As it turned out, it would be a similar kind of night on Wednesday despite facing the rookie in his first start at this level. The first inning looked good, though it should have been better. Marwin Gonzalez started the inning with a double into the corner in right field, and that was followed by a walk. With two on, J.D. Martinez ripped a base hit into right-center field that was cut off by Ramón Laureano. The Red Sox played it cautiously, though, with the meat of the order still coming up and Laureano having a very strong arm. They held Gonzalez up at third to keep the bases loaded and hoped the rest of the lineup picked them up.
Xander Bogaerts was up next, but he went down chasing a nasty slider that broke out of the zone. That brought Rafael Devers to the plate to try and take advantage of the situation, but he hit a weak pop up on the infield to once again fail to bring a run home. Boston did get one run when Christian Vázquez drew a walk, but even with the 1-0 lead it felt like a failure.
Over on the other side, Eduardo Rodriguez looked good for the first inning but then had some trouble of his own in the top half of the second. It started well with two quick outs, though one was thanks to his defense. Matt Chapman ripped a ball out to center field with one out that Alex Verdugo couldn’t corral at the wall. Hunter Renfroe was right there to back him up, and he threw a perfect strike into third base to cut Chapman down trying to extend a double into a triple. But the A’s kept hitting from there, with a single followed by a double bringing home the tying run. Mitch Moreland had a chance to give Oakland the lead with a runner on second, too, but Rodriguez got him swinging to end the inning.
From that point, it was all pitching for a few innings. Rodriguez held Oakland scoreless for the next two innings, allowing just a single baserunner in each inning with neither of them advancing beyond first base. The Red Sox, meanwhile, managed two doubles from the second through the fourth, but they were in different innings and no runs came across.
So, it was still a 1-1 game as we entered the fifth, and here is when the Athletics seemingly began to figure out Rodriguez. They started that inning off with a base hit from Moreland on a half swing that snuck through the left side, and that was followed by a double to put a pair in scoring position. After a big strikeout, Jed Lowrie came up and hit a ground ball to the shortstop. The infield was playing back and the ball was weakly hit, so while they got the out at first the A’s got a run in and also moved the other runner up to third base.
That runner was Elvis Andrus, and with Rodriguez pitching out of the windup Andrus started dancing around down the third base line. Typically that doesn’t have an affect at this level, but it worked this time. Rodriguez got flustered and stopped his windup midway through, resulting in a balk and a third run for Oakland on the night. It was a bad mistake. No two ways about that.
Now, the offense needed to get back to work suddenly down by two runs, and they had a good start with Gonzalez drawing a walk. Verdugo followed that up with what looked like a double play ball back to the pitcher, but Kaprielian threw it away, allowing Gonzalez to move up to third with nobody out. This was a prime chance for scoring with the middle of the order coming up, but things went sideways.
J.D. Martinez hit a weak tapper back toward the mound, and Gonzalez was off on contact. It was going to be a close play at the plate, but Gonzalez retreated rather than forcing the rookie pitcher to make a play (right after making an error at that). Not only did he get caught and tagged out, but the runners didn’t even advance. It was a horrible decision and all-around play. Bogaerts and Devers then both struck out, and another opportunity was wasted.
Rodriguez had one more inning in him, but the A’s didn’t let it go quietly. Matt Olson led off the inning and he did what he does best: Smacked a dinger. Rodriguez threw a first-pitch changeup that both caught too much of the plate and stayed too high up in the zone, and Olson put it into orbit for a solo homer, upping Oakland’s lead to three. Rodriguez got out of it from there, but he left the game trailing 4-1 despite striking out nine.
After the Red Sox offense went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, it was Eduard Bazardo (who was just called up prior to the game) coming in for the seventh. The young righty did give up a double, but that was all as he kept the deficit at three runs. The offense still had nothing, going down quickly in order in the bottom of the inning.
Bazardo came back out for a perfect eighth as well, keeping the score at 4-1 as the offense had only six more outs to play with in regulation. Here, they showed a little life once again, getting a scoring chance after a Bogaerts walk and a Devers double on a chopper to the right side. That put two in scoring position with just one out, a situation they’d seen multiple times in this game, and they’d find an even stupider way to blow this one. Vázquez hit a soft liner to the right side that was played by Lowrie at second base on one hop. They got the out at first, and then Bogaerts made a late break for home. I’m not sure why he did that, but it didn’t work as Olson made a good throw to the plate to get the final out and give the Red Sox yet another squandered chance.
After Austin Brice came in for a perfect ninth (I know), it was the last chance for the offense. They didn’t come through, going down in order to end the game and lose their third straight. The 4-1 loss dropped their record to 22-16.
The Red Sox will look to avoid a sweep to the A’s on Thursday in the series finale. They’ll have Garrett Richards on the mound taking on Sean Manaea. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.