Red Sox vs. Athletics series preview


Apr 26, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) gets a single during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s visit Fenway Park for a three-game weekend set with the first game kicking off at 7:10 PM and Clay Buchholz on the mound. Unlike the Red Sox, who are nursing a 13-15 record following a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the A’s are sailing at 18-10.

They’ve lost starters Jarrod Parker (the nominal ace) and A.J. Griffin to Tommy John surgery. Their high-profile closer (Jim Johnson, he of 101 saves the last two seasons) flamed out and has been replaced by a closer-by-committee.

How do they do it? “In Billy We Trust.”

Oakland’s offense is led by Josh Donaldson, a revelation last year at age 27 and cranking along at .279 with seven homers, 23 RBI and 22 runs scored. There are always reclamation projects in green and gold uniforms, and this year Alberto Callaspo (.269, 3, 15) is the guy in the early going.

Their lineup also boasts former Sox Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss. OK, and Nick Punto.

Clay Buchholz and his foreboding ERA (1-2, 6.66 ERA) faces Dan Straily (1-1, 5.14 ERA) in the opener at 7:10 PM Friday.

Saturday features a lefty matchup with Jon Lester (an unfortunate 2-4 with a 3.10 ERA) squaring off against Tommy Milone (0-2, 4.56 ERA) at 1:35 PM. The last time Milone faced the Sox, David Ortiz struck for two homers.

The series winds up with a great matchup: upstart Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.76 ERA) vs. John Lackey (4-2, 3.83 ERA) at 1:35 PM on Sunday. Neither Gray nor Game 1 starter Straily have ever faced the Red Sox.