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Red Sox 8, Athletics 1: That’s more like it

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The offense comes back for a big night to avoid the sweep.

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Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Boston was on the verge of being swept by Oakland on Thursday, and perhaps more importantly their offense was in the kind of funk that seems impossible to break out of. We knew, of course, they would eventually hit again, but after a few terrible nights in a row we needed to see it. We saw it here. Sean Manaea had no command and the Red Sox took advantage, putting seven runs on the board in the first three innings. They got homers from Xander Bogaerts and Bobby Dalbec, as well as a three-hit game from J.D. Martinez and two-double effort from Michael Chavis. The offense was the story, but Garrett Richards also contributed another terrific start to make for an all-around great day at Fenway.

The Red Sox were looking for some offense after three straight days without it, and on top of that looking a sweep in the face if they lose on Thursday. To make matters even worse, they were going up against Sean Manaea, who not only was coming off an outing in which he carried a perfect game deep into the game but he also no-hit the Red Sox back in 2018. There is some history here. The good news for Boston: The lefty did not appear to be in that form at any point in this game, and the Red Sox punished him early and often.

The tone was set right away too with Michael Chavis in the leadoff spot. He hit a line drive out to right-center field that looked like a regular base hit. Ramón Laureano had a little bit of trouble fielding the ball, though, and Chavis took a chance going for second. It paid off, and the Red Sox were ready to roll from there. The double was followed by a couple batters later with a single, and Chavis came around easily to score and give the Red Sox an early run.

Then, Xander Bogaerts came up. The shortstop has been so good all year, but he has been struggling a lot in some of these recent games. He snapped out of that funk in this game, and it started with this first at bat. The shortstop got a first-pitch fastball right in his happy zone, and he was all over it. The ball just barely stayed fair, but it clanked off the pole for a two-run shot to give Boston a three-run first when they desperately needed it.

They came right back in the second and continued the onslaught as Manaea just kept leaving his changeup up in the zone. Hunter Renfroe started the inning with a 114 mph single that reached the wall but was hit too hard for extra bases. That brought a struggling Bobby Dalbec to the plate, but he didn’t look it here. He got a pitch a little down and a little in, and he went to the deepest part of the field. Dalbec cleared the wall in center field and made it a 5-0 game.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The inning would continue with the same tone, as Manaea walked a man, and then after finally getting a couple of outs J.D. Martinez kept the inning alive with his second single of the night. That brought Bogaerts back to the plate, and this time he ripped a double out to left field. That scored one more run to put the total at six.

Manaea would come out for the third as well, but it again did not go well. The Red Sox continued to be on everything, hitting three straight singles to load the bases in the inning before recording an out. That was the end of the night for the A’s starter, and Deolis Garcia got the job done. Boston did get one more run to make it 7-0, but it came on a Jonathan Araúz double play, and it was all they got out of the situation.

So, that was the offense, and the offense was the story of the night, but Garrett Richards’s performance should not be overlooked either. The righty’s turnaround since his brutal start to the year has been stark, and it continued here tonight. He cruised through this Athletics lineup, with a perfect first and then allowing just a double in the second. He allowed another hit in the third as well, but an inning-ending double play immediately followed it to keep the number of batters in the inning to three.

After Richards allowed just a walk in the fourth, the A’s finally got multiple baserunners in the fifth for the first time in the game. The righty got two quick outs, but Sean Murphy kept the inning alive with a single and then Richards issued a walk. With two men on, Mark Canha came to the plate and things got a little testy. Canha was leaning in trying to get hit by some curveballs, which rightfully did not sit well with Richards. He didn’t react well, however, as one of the next pitches went up by Canha’s head. It’s impossible to prove intent, but at the very least the optics were not good. At the very worst, well, it’s much worse. Richards did get out of the inning in that at bat, though.

He’d come back out for the sixth as well, and this one was a bit of a challenge as well. Mitch Moreland started things off with a familiar sight as he went the other way for a double off the Monster, and then a base hit put runners on the corners. After Moreland wisely stayed at third on a fly ball out to Renfroe (who had an outfield assist last night), Richards issued a walk to load the bases. It looked like the A’s had a chance to make this back in to a game, but the Red Sox got a huge 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. That was the end of the night for Richards, who overall had another great outing with six scoreless innings.

The offense had been mostly quiet since the third, but they did get a little more in the bottom of the sixth, and it started like the first. Chavis again hit a ball that could have been a single but he pushed a little more and it worked out as he got in safely with a double. He’d move up to third on a ground ball, and then Martinez reached on an error from Matt Chapman, allowing Chavis to come in and make it an 8-0 game.

Moving ahead to the seventh, it was Garrett Whitlock coming in from the bullpen. He was solid here, but not perfect, hitting a batter with one out. A couple batters after that, Canha ripped a double out to the right field gap. Unlike earlier in the game, they decided to test Renfroe this time around. The Red Sox outfielder started a perfect relay to nab Sean Murphy at the plate and end the inning with the shutout still in hand.

Whitlock came back out for the eighth as well, and he did his job of not needing another pitcher, though the shutout was lost in this inning. He gave up a base hit to Moreland, who then moved to second on a grounder, to third on defensive indifference, and then came across to score on another ground out. But that was all Whitlock allowed in the inning.

That just left one more inning to get through, and it was Whitlock coming out again for a third inning of work. He got through this one without any more runs, and that was a three-inning save for the righty, the first save of his career. The 8-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 23-16.

The Red Sox now welcome the Angels into town for a three-game set starting on Friday. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET with Nick Pivetta taking on Griffin Canning.