Red Sox vs Athletics Series Preview: First trip out West

Apr 23, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) looks on from the dugout before a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) looks on from the dugout before a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox make their first visit of the season to the West Coast to take on the Oakland Athletics in a four-game series.

The Boston Red Sox (21-18) continue their road trip with a visit to the Oakland A’s (17-23) for an extended weekend out West.

The Red Sox may enter the series a bit sleep deprived after their departure to Oakland was delayed by last night’s extra-innings affair in St. Louis. Chris Young‘s bloop single in the top of the 13th inning drove in the go-ahead run and Ben Taylor, the last man standing in the bullpen, locked down the win with his first career save.

A late night becomes far more palatable with a win, which the Red Sox managed for the second time in as many games against the Cardinals. Boston has now won four of their last six games, yet still remain four games behind the division leading New York Yankees.

The A’s have dropped five of their last six game and enter the series sitting at the bottom of the AL West division. That stretch came on the road, while their last homestand saw them post a winning record against the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angeles – two teams that, like Boston, enter the day in third place in their respective divisions.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday, May 18 at 10:05 PM – Hector Velazquez vs Sonny Gray (0-1, 3.78 ERA)

Friday, May 19 at 9:35 PM – Chris Sale (4-2, 2.15 ERA) vs Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.95 ERA)

Saturday, May 20 at 4:05 PM – Drew Pomeranz (3-3, 5.29 ERA) vs Sean Manaea (1-3, 5.52 ERA)

Sunday, May 21 at 4:05 PM – Eduardo Rodriguez (2-1, 3.05 ERA) vs Andrew Triggs (5-2, 2.12 ERA)

Series Notes

  • Velazquez makes his major league debut for the Red Sox to kick off this series. The former star of the Mexican League has posted a 2-1 record and 1.55 ERA over five starts in Pawtucket this season.
  • Pomeranz left his last start after only logging three innings due to tightness in his left triceps. An MRI came back negative and he’s expected to be ready to start this weekend. While his bloated ERA suggests the lefty is having a miserable season, he’s actually given up two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts. The problem is that he’s failed to go deep into games and questions about his health won’t help matters.
  • After going 0-for-5 in Wednesday night’s game, Andrew Benintendi is without a hit in his last 26 at-bats. The slump has dropped his batting average to .280, the lowest it’s been since April 15.
  • Oakland’s -45 run differential is the second lowest in the American League, as they’ve struggled in virtually every aspect of the game. The A’s pitching staff is 13th  in the league with a 4.40 ERA, the lineup is 14th in runs scored with 154 and their defense has committed the most errors in the majors with 37.

Key Hitters

Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts

2017 Season (36 Games): .295/.368/.527, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 6 SB

Career vs Oakland A’s (12 Games): .224/.264/.327, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB

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Betts earned Player of the Week honors last week and has picked up his performance in May, hitting .291 with a 1.016 OPS this month. His surge in production has been a significant reason why the Red Sox offense has started to pick up recently, although a visit to Oakland threatens to put a temporary halt to this hot streak.

As seen above, Betts has struggled against the A’s in his career and it gets worse on the road. He’s hitting a paltry .192/.241/.231 in six career games at Oakland Coliseum, where he has yet to hit a home run and has only one extra-base hit. His career batting average is lower in only two other ballparks and Detroit is the only place where he owns a lower OPS.

Oakland Athletics: Yonder Alonso

2017 Season (38 Games): .271/.372/.619, 12 home runs, 29 RBI

Career vs Boston Red Sox (4 Games): .333/.333/.533, 3 doubles, 3 RBI

The 30-year old is enjoying a breakout campaign in his eighth season in the majors, second in Oakland. Alonso leads the A’s is most significant hitting categories, while ranking third in the American League in home runs, as well as fifth in both RBI and OPS.

Alonso was lifted in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners with knee soreness, so keep an eye on his availability for this series.

Next: Red Sox Prospect Watch

Check back with BoSox Injection prior to the start of every Red Sox series this season for our preview!