The Red Sox appeared to be a vulnerable bunch as the A’s arrived in Boston to begin this three-game series.
Instead, the Sox have delivered a reality check. They won a 4-2 decision Saturday to take the first two games of this three-game set. The A’s came into Fenway Park having won four straight and nine of their past 12 to stir up optimism. Now, they need to take Sunday’s finale just to clinch a winning road trip.
The A’s have gone 10 consecutive road trips with a .500 record or worse dating back to June 2014.
Jesse Chavez (2-6), who has pitched so much better than his record would indicate this season, got knocked around for 10 hits over five innings. Meanwhile, the A’s mustered just five hits total against hard-throwing Joe Kelly (2-4) and four Boston relievers.
Throw in a few forgettable defensive moments, and the A’s have regressed in all facets so far this series after sweeping their way to three victories in Detroit.
Starting pitching report
Chavez brought a 15-inning scoreless streak into the game, and he was coming off back-to-back outings of going eight innings in each. But much as they did against Scott Kazmir the night before, the Red Sox put good wood on Chavez early. The right-hander fell behind 3-1 to Hanley Ramirez in the first, and Ramirez blasted a two-run homer to straightaway center.
After the A’s scored in the top of the third to get to within 2-1, Chavez couldn’t get the shutdown frame he was looking for in the bottom half, and the damage came after he got the first two outs. Ramirez reached on an infield single. Then David Ortiz doubled off the Green Monster, a play on which left fielder Ben Zobrist let the ball get past him on the carom and Ramirez scored. The next hitter, Mike Napoli, singled and scored Ortiz to make it 4-1. Zobrist’s throw to the plate was to the first base side, and Stephen Vogt couldn’t field it cleanly to make a tag.
The stinginess of Oakland’s rotation was a driving force behind the 12-game surge in which the A’s went 9-3 coming into this series. But in the first two games at Fenway, Kazmir and Chavez combined to give up 19 hits and seven earned runs in 9 2/3 innings.
Drew Pomeranz, Evan Scribner, Eric O’Flaherty and Fernando Rodriguez held Boston scoreless over the final four innings, but the A’s couldn’t mount a comeback.
At the plate
The A’s were really feeling good about themselves, getting offensive contributions up and down the batting order and coming through in key situations before this series. But they’ve been bottled up the past two games, combining for just four runs total.
Billy Burns delivered a run-scoring triple in the third to extend hitting streak to 11 games and pull the A’s to within 2-1. But with Burns standing on third with one out, the A’s couldn’t bring him home to tie the game, and Boston would take control with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Mark Canha, drawing the start at first base, homered in the seventh to pull Oakland to within 4-2.
In the field
No errors show up on the line score, but Zobrist misplayed two balls off the Green Monster. On Ramirez’s infield single in the third, third baseman Max Muncy appeared to have a shot at cutting theball off and couldn’t, then Marcus Semien couldn’t come up with it either. That two-out hit opened the gates to a two-run Sox rally.
The A’s have fared well against Clay Buchholz (3-6, 3.82) over the years. The right-hander has posted a 6.68 ERA in seven starts against Oakland. Kendall Graveman (3-2, 5.56) goes for the A’s in Sunday’s 10:35 a.m. contest that wraps up this six-game road trip.