Red Sox vs. A’s Series Preview: West Coast trip continues

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 21: Hanley Ramirez
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 21: Hanley Ramirez /

The Red Sox continue their West Coast trip to take on the Athletics.

The Boston Red Sox (16-2) will face the young Oakland Athletics (9-10) for a three-game series in Oakland. Both teams are coming off a sweep of their opponents. This series doesn’t grab many headlines, but the Red Sox look to continue their West Coast offensive explosion.

Mookie Betts has become an early favorite for MVP considerations with his scorching hot bat. While his teammate who also could find himself in the running, Xander Bogaerts, remains sidelined with an ankle injury, the Red Sox haven’t skipped a beat on offense in his absence. J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers have all caught fire to pick up the slack while Bogaerts rests.

Aside from Bogey, Bobby Poyner and Dustin Pedroia also remain sidelined this series with injuries.

The Red Sox enter Oakland as the hottest team in baseball, who just obliterated the second hottest team in baseball, the Angels. Now, the A’s get a crack at slowing down the unstoppable Red Sox offense.

Don’t let the young A’s fool you, their offense can score runs. They’ve scored seven or more runs seven times this season.

Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale and David Price may have something to say about that.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, April 20 at 10:05 PM Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kendall Graveman (0-3, 9.87 ERA)

Saturday, April 21 at 9:05 PM Chris Sale (1-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Sean Manaea (2-2, 1.63 ERA)

Thursday, April 22 at 4:05 PM David Price (2-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Daniel Mengden (2-2, 4.50 ERA)

Series Notes

  • Pomeranz went 1-0  in two starts with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings against Oakland last season.
  • Graveman has surrendered six home runs this season.
  • Sale is 5-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 13 career appearances against the A’s.
  • Manaea has only yielded five runs in 27 2/3 innings, while striking out 20.
  • Both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi hit their first homers of the season against the Angels. This could ignite their bats for the season.
  • Since batting .227 on April 12, Martinez has slashed .542/.538/.917 and hit two home runs (four total).
  • The Red Sox have hit four grand slams this year after having zero last year.

Three Keys To Victory

  • Pitch deep into games: The Red Sox starting pitching is No. 2 in the majors with a 2.63 ERA. However, they’re ranked 12th in innings pitched and the bullpen could benefit from seeing the starters go deeper in games. Most notably, Chris Sale has yet to pitch seven innings. The Red Sox starters must avoid high pitch counts in early innings.
  • Offense: Whether it’s first-pitch aggression or launch-angle swings, just keep rolling. Don’t change a thing. There have been some inconsistencies for JBJ and Benintendi, but now is not the time to press. The players must stay loose and continue to buy into Cora’s strategy, even if times get tough at the plate.
  • Strike early: The offense struck early against the Angels three games in a row, giving their pitchers a bit of breathing room. As each game progressed, the offense battered balls around the park, allowing the starting pitchers to settle in and do their thing. Price and Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez all pitched with complete confidence and comfort, knowing they had room for error. Obviously, every game isn’t going to be that easy, but if the Red Sox score runs early in the game against an inferior A’s team, it allows the pitchers to pound the strike zone and keep pitch counts low.

Next: Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland providing valuable depth in 2018

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