Friday’s game had an historic flair to it as A’s reliever Pat Venditte became the first “switch pitcher” since 1995 to appear in a major league game.
Otherwise, the A’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox wasn’t exactly time capsule-worthy. They committed three errors and starter Scott Kazmir couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning, as Oakland’s season-high four-game winning streak came to a halt.
Venditte, the 29-year-old ambidextrous pitcher who was called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville, made his major league debut in the bottom of the seventh. He threw two scoreless innings – recording five outs as a right-hander and one out left-handed – becoming the first major leaguer since the Montreal Expos’ Greg Harris 20 years ago to pitch with both hands in a game.
But Harris was a right-hander who only experimented throwing with his left hand in one game at the tail end of his career. Venditte switch-pitches full time and has since he was a youth growing up in Omaha, Nebraska.
His outing was the highlight for the A’s, though they put a scare into the Fenway Park crowd in the ninth. Josh Phegley came within a few feet of a game-tying homer when his double off the top of the Green Monster. That wound up putting runners on second and third with two outs, but Koji Uehara coaxed Mark Canha into a game-ending fly out to end it.
Starting pitching report
Coming off an eight-day layoff, Kazmir (2-4) gave up lots of hard contact in just 4 2/3 innings. The leadoff batter reached on a hit in four of five innings against Kazmir and wound up scoring each time. Attribute part of that to the shaky defensive support, but the left-hander simply wasn’t his sharpest in his first start back since he left a May 27 game with shoulder tightness. The Red Sox, without either David Ortiz or Pablo Sandoval in the lineup, got to him for nine hits and four runs (three earned).
Over the previous 12 games, Oakland’s starters were 8-2 with a 1.36 ERA and averaged 6 2/3 innings per outing.
Venditte was the talk of the game from Oakland’s perspective. He got the left-handed hitting Brock Holt on a grounder to first on his first batter. He switched to his right hand and gave up Hanley Ramirez’s single but then got Mike Napoli tohit into an inning-ending double play. In the eighth, he got Xander Boegarts on a grounder to short. Mookie Betts flied out to right. Up to the plate stepped switch hitter Blake Swihart. Venditte elected tomake him hit right-handed , and he struck out Swihart on a 73 mile-per-hour offspeed pitch.
At the plate
The A’s couldn’t get much going against lefty Wade Miley (4-6). Brett Lawrie’s solo homer in the seventh was their offensive bright spot.
In the field
Two of the Sox’s runs scored as a direct result of Oakland errors. Dustin Pedroia came all the way around from first on Brock Holt’s double as Ben Zobrist had trouble corralling the ball in the left field corner. In the fourth, third baseman Brett Lawrie fielded Mookie Betts’ bunt on the run and threw wildly to first for an error that allowed Xander Bogaerts to score. The A’s have committed 57 errors in 57 games.
Jesse Chavez (2-5, 3.11) brings a 15-inning scoreless streak into Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. game. The Red Sox will send Joe Kelly (1-4, 5.83) to the hill.