Red Sox-Athletics Preview
When Oakland and Boston last met in early July, the Athletics
were a bit of an afterthought in the playoff picture while the Red
Sox were just off the cut for the wild card.
A three-game sweep by the Athletics essentially spurred their
playoff push and initiated Boston’s unraveling.
The surging A’s try to match last season’s win total and also
beat the Red Sox for a sixth straight time in Friday night’s series
opener in Oakland.
The A’s (73-57) return home after defeating Cleveland 12-7 on
Thursday to win the final six contests of a seven-game road trip.
They’ve won 12 of 14 overall to open a one-game lead over Baltimore
for the AL’s top wild-card spot.
“No one expected us to do anything,” outfielder Josh Reddick
told the Athletics’ official website. “Obviously we’re opening a
lot of eyes and surprising a lot of people, and that’s what we
Oakland shouldn’t be sneaking up on anyone anymore, having gone
a major league-best 36-15 since July 1. A July 2-4 sweep of a Red
Sox club that was a season-high five games over .500 at the time
was part of a 9-1 stretch for Oakland.
That sweep at the hands of the A’s began a five-game losing
streak for Boston, and the Red Sox (62-70) never seemed to
They arrive in Oakland after suffering a three-game sweep to the
Los Angeles Angels and have dropped eight of 11 to fall a
season-worst eight games under .500. Jacoby Ellsbury was hitless in
his final nine at-bats in Anaheim.
The Red Sox beat the A’s 11-6 on April 30 in the first meeting
of the season series, but have totaled 10 runs while losing the
last five matchups. The five straight wins marks Oakland’s longest
single-season winning streak over Boston since 1992, and the
Athletics haven’t won six straight over Boston since 1969.
Reddick, who spent his first three seasons with the Red Sox
before being traded in December, has two home runs and five RBIs in
six games against his former team. He enters this series batting
.522 with two homers and five RBIs during a five-game hitting
While Oakland’s offense has erupted for 27 runs in its last
three games, the team’s pitching staff has a major league-best 2.74
ERA since Aug. 16.
Brandon McCarthy (7-5, 3.12 ERA) takes the ball Friday after an
encouraging outing, in which he allowed two runs and four hits
while striking out seven in seven innings of Saturday’s 4-2 win
over Tampa Bay. The right-hander had been 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in
his first three starts after a two-month stint on the disabled list
with a strained right shoulder.
“I worked on some things and worked on my arm slot to try to get
back to where I needed to be,” McCarthy said. “It was just too
With the victory over the Rays, McCarthy improved to 9-0 in 14
starts against the AL East since 2009. That includes a 4-2 victory
over the Red Sox on May 2, when he gave up one run and five hits in
6 2-3 innings.
Boston counters with Aaron Cook (3-7, 4.76), who gave up three
runs and seven hits in six innings of a 12-inning, 10-9 loss to
Kansas City on Saturday. It was the sixth time in 12 starts the
sinkerballer didn’t record a strikeout.
In his only start of the season against the A’s on July 4, Cook
allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 3-2 loss.