Taking three of four games from the reigning champs is an excellent way for the Athletics to head into their longest road trip of the season.
After a shaky start, which included two bases-loaded walks in the first inning, Brett Anderson (W, 2-0, 2.38 ERA) managed to power through 5-1/3 innings. Stephen Piscotty did the wood work, with five RBIs, and Ramón Laureano gunned down yet another Boston base runner, leading the Athletics (6-4) to a 7-3 series-clinching victory over the Red Sox (2-6).
Of course, Anderson would rather have his best stuff every time out, but he knows that winning is the objective regardless.
“My command wasn’t great all day, but after the first there I made some pitches when I had to — a bunch in traffic, which is never ideal for a contact guy. Anytime you get a win in the big leagues, let alone against the defending world champions, we’ll take it.”
Manager Bob Melvin was appreciative of Anderson’s effort, noting that he needs a well-stocked bullpen for the long trip ahead.
“The way the game started out, it looked like it could get away from us. Brett got some outs when he needed to and ended up giving us some length. We were down several guys in the bullpen today, we needed him to give us at least five innings.”
Boston got yet another poor outing from its starter, this one courtesy of Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 12.38 ERA). He was even worse than in his first start, against Seattle, allowing six earned runs on eight hits during just 3 2/3 innings of work.
The initial damage came from Piscotty.
With the A’s down 3-0 in the third, the right fielder launched a three-run homer (2) to straight-away center field. It was Oakland’s 15th home run of 2019 — good for second-best in the AL behind the Mariners.
Piscotty had an incredible offensive day overall, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs, one walk and one run scored. He feels like he’s finding a groove following a slow start:
“I’m starting to see it [the ball] a little bit better. My rhythm is good. I got a couple lucky breaks, I’m not gonna lie, but that’s baseball. There were some pitches I felt I could do damage on, and I just tried to put my best swing on them.”
After Anderson squeaked out of another bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, the Oakland offense ran Rodriguez off the mound with three more runs in the bottom half of the fourth.
In large part to Piscotty’s “lucky breaks.”
A seemingly routine fly ball to deep right-center from Piscotty dropped between a pair premier defenders, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and right fielder Mookie Betts, hopping over the wall for a ground-rule two-run double. Those two runs pushed the Oakland lead to 6-3 and spelled the end of Rodriguez’s afternoon.
Laureano’s third outfield assist of the young season came in the top of the ninth, with Betts trying to take third on an Andrew Benintendi base hit. Scooping a high hop on the dead sprint, the Oakland center fielder fired a strike, on the full sprint, to Matt Chapman, who applied the tag to Betts’ left arm just before it reached the bag. Hoping to keep rally cooking, Boston skipper Alex Cora challenged the call. But the ruling was upheld.
Melvin noted that he was surprised Boston tested his center fielder throughout the entire series.
“Rarely do you see three impactful plays like that in a series, because sometimes they stop running on you. But they continued to be aggressive on him, and every time he made a different play than the one before, but all big plays in the course of the game.”
Stephen Piscotty had his first four-hit game of the season. He had none all of last season. … Khris Davis had his first multi-hit game of 2019, along with his 10th RBI, good for third-most.