Red Sox-Athletics Preview
The Boston Red Sox rarely win in Oakland, and neither does Rick Porcello.
The Oakland Athletics are just happy to be heading home after a road-heavy stretch.
These teams own the AL’s worst records this month as they begin a three-game set Monday night, with Porcello seeking to hand the Athletics a sixth straight loss.
Boston (14-17) ended a three-game slide with Sunday’s 6-3 victory at Toronto that came on the heels of its second team meeting in less than a week. Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer and Clay Buchholz pitched into the seventh inning to end a personal four-game slide.
”The way we played today is the way we know we can play,” Napoli said. ”That’s the way we should play. That’s the way we expect to play.”
The Red Sox have dropped 21 of their last 27 games in Oakland, where Porcello (3-2, 4.38 ERA) is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts with Detroit. The Athletics have batted .341 against him in those games.
Oakland (12-21) may not be in position to add to his woes as it seeks to avoid its first six-game slide since a nine-game skid May 22-June 1, 2012. The Athletics’ 3-7 record this month is second-worst in the AL, with the Red Sox at 2-7.
This six-game homestand comes after Oakland played 20 of 26 on the road.
"We’ve been on the road 20 of 26, I think everybody is just ready to go back to Oakland for a little while," said catcher Stephen Vogt, who is second in the league with a 1.087 OPS. "It’s not an excuse, I think it’s a fact that we’re ready to go home."
Oakland fell 4-3 at Seattle on Sunday and dropped to 1-10 in one-run games. The A’s are off to their worst start since 1999, when they were 9-24.
"Our record is not indicative of how good we are,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”We need to start believing we are going to win.”
Melvin’s bullpen has produced an AL-worst 5.07 ERA, causing the club to acquire Edward Mujica and cash from Boston on Saturday for either a player to be named or cash considerations.
Mujica, who turned 31 on Sunday, was dealt a day after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox. He was 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in 11 games for Boston, and could make his Oakland debut against his former team.
Porcello has thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings after he worked seven in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay. He has faced Billy Butler more than all but one batter, with the A’s slugger a .347 hitter against him.
Coco Crisp, who is 6 for 20 against Porcello, will start playing regularly Monday after returning for five games following elbow surgery.
The Red Sox are expected to welcome back Shane Victorino, who has been out since April 22 with a right hamstring strain.
Oakland’s Scott Kazmir (2-1, 2.75) hasn’t allowed a run in 14 innings at home, but had his worst start of the season Wednesday at Minnesota. The left-hander allowed six runs and seven hits – including two homers – over six innings in a 13-0 loss.
Dustin Pedroia is 19 for 38 off Kazmir while David Ortiz is a .208 hitter in this matchup and Napoli is 1 for 10 with six strikeouts.
Former San Francisco star Pablo Sandoval, a .211 hitter in Oakland, makes his return to the Bay Area.