“Night & Day” by Fred Astaire is not the No. 1 song in the country. A gallon of gas does not cost 10 cents. Amelia Earhart is not soaring the skies above the Atlantic. And the Oakland Athletics could not hand the Boston Red Sox a four-game sweep at home.
The A’s (20-24) had not swept the Red Sox (22-21) in four games at home since May 19-21, 1932 — exactly 85 years — when “home” was Shibe Park in Philadelphia, according to A’s Baseball Information Manager Mike Selleck. That streak will continue at least one more year, as Boston bashed Oakland 12-3 Sunday.
Manager Bob Melvin said that while it would have been a great boost to finish the sweep Boston was “persistent”:
“Coming in you say, ‘give us three out of four from them,’ you’ll take it. Once you win three games, you want to get greedy and win the last game, and we felt like we had them on the run a little bit.”
Starter Andrew Triggs came into the contest having walked just 12 batters in his first 46-2/3 innings pitched in 2017 — approximately one walk per four inning of work — so his three walks were a mite uncharacteristic. The lack of defense behind him, responsible for three errors, far less so, though he did take responsibility for allowing the errors to hurt.
The issues started straight away for the starter and his the mates. Triggs (L, 5-3, 2.77 ERA) walked Mookie Betts to lead off the game on five pitches — something he had done only four times prior. Right fielder Mark Canha followed by breaking back on what was a bloop to shallow right, unable to run down the Dustin Pedroia flare he compounded the flub by firing an errant throw into left field allowing Betts to score from first.
And the speedy Betts scored from first on a single again in the fifth.
With Pedroia up, the A’s deployed a bit a sneakiness having shortstop Adam Rosales cover second on a hit-and-run instead of second baseman Chad Pinder. But it was Pedroia who got the last laugh sneaking a roller past Rosales into left.
The skipper said the decision to have the pull-side defender cover second came down to Pedroia’s lauded bat control:
“He usually hits the ball the other way very well. He’s the type of guy that really will see who we cover, and if the shortstop covers he can roll his hands over, if not he can shoot it the other way. Those types of guys are tough to defend on those types of plays.”
Betts, going on the pitch, had not yet reached third when Khris Davis made first contact with the ground ball in shallow left, but he challenged nonetheless, and one of baseball’s worst arms was unable to make him pay.
This run, though, the second in Boston’s half of the fifth, was a tying tally, coming after more Pinder fireworks in the fourth.
Pinder, who one day prior launched Major League Baseball’s furthest-hit home run this season — a 483-foot blast — sent a nearly as impressive laser line-drive over the wall in left for a go-ahead two-run home run (5) scoring Ryon Healy.
Melvin, who has asserted several times that Pinder’s offensive abilities are of no surprise, said:
“He can get on a roll, then you get some confidence going behind it. … He’s got some production in his bat, for sure.”
Boston continued to add on, though, putting two more on the board in the sixth, and knocking Triggs out in the process. The Oakland starter finished his 5-1/3 frames serving up eight hits and six runs, though only five were earned. He struck out seven, but couldn’t overcome his defense’s failings and his own wildness.
Triggs called the two runs in the fifth the his greatest shortcoming of the afternoon:
“For the most part, the inning I’m most frustrated with is, after Pinder gave us that two-run home run — gave us the lead — then I gave it back. … That was the thing that stuck with me the most, the thing I’m most frustrated about.”
Boston added another in the eighth and four more in the ninth for good measure.
Red Sox and starter Eduardo Rodriguez were in a much less giving mood than the home team, gifting the A’s only one free base — on a walk from the hurler.
Rodriguez (W, 3-1, 3.10 ERA) finished his 8 innings of stellar work allowing six hits and three runs. He struck out eight.
Supplying the insurance, Mitch Moreland hit a two-run home run (5) in the sixth inning. It was the 19th home run of his career against the A’s, 14 coming in Oakland. Along with their first baseman, the Red Sox were led by 3-for-4, two-RBI performance from designated hitter Hanley Ramirez. He added a walk and a pair of runs scored.
Pinder was involved in each A’s run, finishing 2-for-4 — Oakland’s only multi-hit effort — with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Like his manager, Triggs believes the series victory to be a positive. But he takes the blame for not adding the “exclamation point”:
“Huge series, good series, and I think everybody is going to feel good about it on the off-day.”
The A’s get a rare home off-day before hosting the Miami Marlins for a short two-game set. Tuesday’s game one of that series pits a pair of starters whose win-loss record do not match their ERAs, Jose Urena (1-2, 1.91 ERA) and Jesse Hahn (1-3, 3.02 ERA).
Left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle (left shoulder) threw a 15-pitch bullpen session prior to the game Sunday. Manager Bob Melvin said he came away from it in good health and will throw another bullpen (25 pitches) in the coming days. … Though he did not make an appearance, Melvin said prior to the game that first baseman and RBI leader (29) Yonder Alonso (left knee) was available to play off the bench Sunday without limitations. … John Axford (right shoulder) made his 2017 debut in the eighth, allowing a hit and a run in his 1 inning of relief. His eighth-inning run allowed also brought the A’s bullpen’s home scoreless streak to a close at 27 innings. Relievers finished the game with five runs allowed.