Red Sox-Athletics Preview
The Boston Red Sox have turned around this road trip with four straight wins.
Now they are hoping Jon Lester can turn around his road woes.
Lester was on the mound the last time the Red Sox lost and will look to take advantage of a sputtering Oakland Athletics' offense Saturday night.
Boston (58-37) ended a six-game slide in Oakland with a 4-2 victory Friday in the opener of this weekend series. The Red Sox began 1-3 on this 10-game trip before this surge ensured they will go into the All-Star break with the AL's best record.
Lester (8-5, 4.60 ERA) dropped to 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA - the worst road ERA in the majors since May 20 - in his last five away outings Monday by yielding five runs over five-plus innings in an 11-4 loss to Seattle. He felt he was victimized by bad luck.
"It goes back to, I feel like I threw the ball better than what the line score says," Lester told the Red Sox's official website.
All of the left-hander's defeats have come on the road but he could be facing the right opponent in Oakland (54-39), which has totaled six runs while hitting .136 with 29 strikeouts over its last four games. Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes are both 1 for 13 in that stretch for the Athletics, batting a major league-worst .213 in July.
Lester is 4-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 11 starts against Oakland, going 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA in five on the road.
These offenses are baseball's best in drawing walks, with 353 for Boston and 345 for Oakland. It's not unsurprising then that they also rank first and second in pitches seen with the Red Sox at 15,127 and the A's at 14,230.
Where Boston differs is that it leads the majors with 5.2 runs per game compared to Oakland's 4.5 mark. The Red Sox are second in July with a .299 average.
David Ortiz is 10 for 28 with three homers on this road trip as he remains one homer shy of 20 for the year. It would mark his 11th 20-homer season for Boston, which would tie him with Dwight Evans and Jim Evans for the second-most such years in franchise history behind Ted Williams' 16.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 4 on Friday as his 19-game hitting streak ended. He batted .413 with 11 RBIs during that run.
Dustin Pedroia hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth inning for Boston, which has scored 11 of hits last 13 runs with two outs.
"There's no secret,'' Pedroia said. "We've just been able to find ways to get that one pitch and make sure we don't miss it."
The venue could factor into how well Oakland starter A.J. Griffin (7-6, 3.94) fares Saturday. He went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two home starts against the Red Sox last year but surrendered a career-high nine runs over four-plus innings in a 9-6 defeat at Fenway Park on April 22.
The A's have won the right-hander's last three starts and have taken six of his eight at home.