Almost everything seems to be going right these days for the Oakland Athletics, who own both baseball’s highest-scoring offense and its lowest ERA.
Now they’re hoping a pitcher acquired for a bargain-basement price can help them continue their success.
Oakland looks to improve upon the majors’ best record Friday night by winning for the 20th time in 25 home meetings with the Boston Red Sox.
The Athletics (45-28) moved to a season-best 17 games above .500 with a 4-2 win in Thursday’s series opener. Yoenis Cespedes hit his 14th homer and is batting .342 with 17 RBIs over his last 18 games. He’s also 8 for 21 over his last six versus Boston.
Oakland, which leads baseball with a 3.02 ERA and is 16-6 at home since May 7, is averaging 6.8 runs and hitting .330 during a 5-1 stretch. It leads the majors with 5.2 runs per game this year.
Between Cespedes (49), Brandon Moss (55) and Josh Donaldson (52), the A’s are the only club with three players with at least 45 RBIs.
"When you look at the runs that we’ve put up this year, a lot of it has to do with those guys in the middle of the order," manager Bob Melvin said.
Brad Mills is set to pitch in his first game since 2012 after being acquired for all of $1 from Milwaukee on Tuesday.
"I thought it was a joke," Mills told the team’s official website regarding the price tag. "Whatever they had to do to make it official, I’m all for. I don’t take it as a value of my worth as a ballplayer."
The left-hander is 3-3 with a 7.76 ERA in 15 career games, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since his lone start in 2012 when he threw five scoreless innings for the Angels in a win over Baltimore.
Mills was 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 games – 12 starts – this year for Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.
He didn’t record an out the last time he faced Boston, giving up three runs in relief during an 18-6 road loss on Sept. 13, 2011, with Toronto. He surrendered a homer to David Ortiz in his only start against the Red Sox in 2010.
Despite coming off a three-game sweep of Minnesota, Boston (34-39) is struggling offensively. The Red Sox are 2 for 33 over their last six with runners in scoring position and were 0 for 4 in those situations Thursday.
Dustin Pedroia accounted for two of the club’s five hits, including his fourth home run.
"To be honest, our at-bats weren’t that bad," he said. "We have to find a way to have a big inning and get some momentum."
The Red Sox will counter with a southpaw of their own in Felix Doubront (2-4, 5.12), who hasn’t pitched in more than a month due to a strained left shoulder. He struck out 10 over five scoreless innings in his final rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday.
Doubront gave up a season worst-matching five runs in his most recent start May 20 against Toronto, lasting just four-plus innings before exiting with shoulder fatigue.
He’s mostly struggled in three career matchups with Oakland, giving up 13 runs in 13 2-3 innings.
Coco Crisp is 2 for 5 off Doubront with a home run.