By: Malaika Bobino
Oakland, CA – It’s only fitting this series is scheduled right before the MLB All-Star break. Two of the best teams in the American League could possibly face each other in the playoffs. But before that happens the A’s must leave little room for mistakes.
Oakland’s 4-2 loss to the Red Sox was credited to two early runs in the second frame and a two-run single in the eighth. Righty Jarrod Parker got off to a rocky start on an otherwise pretty good outing.
He surrendered a leadoff single to Mike Napoli, followed by a pitch that hit both home plate umpire CB Bucknor in the face and Daniel Nava in the shoulder. Bucknor left the game which caused a 15 minute delay.
Once the game resumed Parker got the next two batters out and then allowed a two-run single to Brock Holt for the early 2-0 lead. Boston capitalized off two errors from the A’s in that inning.
“He was struggling early on with his command,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You could see him bouncing several pitches and really fighting himself. After the seventh, usually he fights for it pretty hard. We had a chance to go with a clean inning right there. I think he was spent.”
After the second he settled in and retired 16 in a row. Through seven innings Jarrod yielded two runs on three hits, walked none and struck out three. Oakland then rallied back to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth.
Seth Smith leadoff the frame with a double and John Jaso hit a RBI single to right field to cut the lead in half. Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play to end the inning. Jed Lowrie leadoff the sixth with a solo blast to left field. It was his seventh home run of the season.
“There’s no secret,” said Dustin Pedroia. “We’re just turning out quality at-bats. Brock [Holt's] at-bat was huge. We’ve just been able to find ways to find that one pitch and make sure we don’t miss.”
The momentum quickly changed when the A’s bullpen took over for Parker. Sean Doolittle had a shot at a double play after Jose Iglesias got on first with a single. Holt’s sacrifice bunt was an opportunity for Oakland but Doolittle slipped when trying to go for second.
“I had a play at second, but I slipped,” Sean said. “I went to plant my feet and just slipped.”
WIth runners at first and third Doolittle hit Shane Victorino on his wrist. After trainers came out to check on him Melvin brought in Ryan Cook. While Pedroia was at-bat, Victorino stole second. Cook then surrendered a two-run single to Pedroia to seal the Red Sox’s victory.
Sean had never hit a batter in his career. “I feel terrible where I hit him and how I hit him and the fact that I hit him,” Doolittle said. “But you get a guy whose a good fastball hitter, you want to come inside and make him a little less comfortable in there. It just got away from me.”
The A’s provided good defense to prevent Boston from scoring the remainder of the game but failed to muster up any runs of their own. Former Oakland pitcher Andrew Bailey pitched a scoreless inning in the eighth and closer Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth.
“Honestly, it was kind of a grind,” said John Lackey. “I didn’t feel as good as I have in the last four or five games, but I was able to kind of grind through it. Guys made a couple of nice plays for me, especially Pedroia on the double play ball. It was a huge play for me, and then they picked me up with a couple of runs in the end. It was a good team effort.”
Dustin came up big to rally the double play in the fifth with one out and runners in the corner. Pedoria grabbed Donaldson’s liner off the ground tossing to Iglesias at second, than to first to end the inning.
“That’s the momentum shifts we’re talking about ,” Melvin said. “We had a lot of momentum there. J.D’s up and hits a bullet. As soon as he hits it your thinking there’s no way he’s going to make that play, and all of a sudden it ends up into two. That was probably the biggest play of the game.”