May 4, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski (40) hits a home run during the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics


The Red Sox are headed to Oakland feeling pretty good about themselves.

David Ortiz and Mike Napoli went back-to-back in the 10th inning of yesterday’s game to give the Sox a walkoff win that completed a sweep of the Twins. But it won’t be easy to keep the streak going, as the A’s will be looking to knock the Sox back down a few pegs.

Oakland is on a bit of a hot-streak themselves, winning five of their last seven. They boast one of the top pitching staffs and lineups in all of baseball, and currently sit comfortably in first in the AL West.

Here are the probable pitching matchups for the four-game series:

  • Thursday, June 19th 10:05pm: Jake Peavy (1-4, 4.53)vs. Scott Kazmir (8-2, 2.05)
  • Friday, June 20th 10:05pm: Felix Doubront (2-4, 5.12) vs. Jesse Chavez (6-4, 2.93)
  • Saturday, June 21st 4:05pm: Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.84) vs. Brad Mills (0-0, 0.00)
  • Sunday, June 22nd 4:05pm: Jon Lester (8-7, 3.20) vs. Tommy Milone (5-3, 3.56)

I was able to catch up with Jason Burke, Editor of Swingin’ A’s, to learn a little bit more about the Athletics.

BSI: The A’s offense and pitching numbers are both near the top of the league. Which are you more surprised by?

Jason: The A’s had a top offense last season as well. While there was some concern over a drop off from players like Josh Donaldson, there were enough players to counteract such a slump. The pitching however has been a little surprising. After losing both Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin before the season started, the rotation was a bit of a question mark. Scott Kazmir has stepped up and has arguably been our best pitcher. Sonny Gray isn’t pitching like a rookie. Jesse Chavez has embraced the starter role this season and is also excelling. The big question is: can they keep it up?

 

BSI: One of your best pitchers this season, as you mentioned, has been Kazmir. Are you as surprised by his performance as we are and what’s been the key to his success?

Jason: Honestly, not really. Everyone was saying he would be a downgrade over Colon, with how well Bartolo has pitched the past 2 seasons. Kazmir is younger and has learned how to pitch, as opposed to the thrower he was earlier in his career. The key for his has been his WHIP. It stands at 0.977. When he does get in trouble, he pitches out of it.

 

BSI: Of the Angels, Mariners and Rangers, who do you see as the biggest threat to the A’s in the division?

Jason: Well, I picked the Mariners to finish 2nd in the division before the season began so I have to stick with them. Why the Mariners? They have pitching. Lots and lots of pitching. The Rangers have been facing too many injuries, and will either stick around .500 or completely collapse as the season progresses. The Angels are a better team this year compared to previous seasons. Their starting pitching has been a big reason for their improved play, but their bullpen is still pretty sketchy. The Mariners team ERA is at 3.31, and the Angels are at 3.89. Pretty close right? The M’s bullpen has a 2.67 ERA and the Angels are at 4.34. Good pitching beats the A’s. The m’s have good pitching. The big question will be if they have enough offense.

 

BSI: You can take any two players from the Red Sox roster and put them on the A’s roster. Who do you take?

Jason: I’m going to answer this from an A’s perspective, taking into account contract length and money. Obviously, I’d love to take Pedroia, but we can’t afford him. First, I’d take Brock Holt and play him at second. The A’s could use a boost up the middle, and have too many OF possibilities as is. His not being a free agent until 2020 works very well for us. The second guy I’d like is Koji Uehara. Two years at $9.25M is well within range for the A’s. We could even save money if the Red Sox would like Jim Johnson. How about it?

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