The Boston Red Sox (34-41) finish their series against the Oakland A's (47-28), trying to avoid getting swept. Boston is averaging only 2 runs per game in the series so far and have scored 2 runs or less in 7 of their last 8 games.
Oakland won yesterday on a walk-off single by Coco Crisp in the 10th inning. Edward Mujica started the inning with a walk to Alberto Callapso and he was pulled after Nick Punto sacrificed the runner into scoring position. Closer Koji Uehara came in to try to get out of the jam, but gave up the base hit to Crisp that ended the game.
You could argue that Boston shouldn't have even been in position to get to extra innings after a controversial call allowed Mike Napoli's at-bat to continue in the 8th inning. Napoli fouled off a pitch with two strikes that was pretty clearly caught in the webbing of catcher John Jaso's glove, but the home plate umpire ruled the ball hit the ground first. On the very next pitch, Dustin Pedroia scored on a wild pitch to tie the score and give Boston their only run of the game. It took a blown call and some wildly aggressive base running just to manage 1 run. That's the state this offense currently finds itself in.
- Jon Lester (8-7, 3.20 ERA) gets the start for Boston. When he last faced this Oakland lineup last month in Fenway, Lester shut them out for 8 innings, allowing only 1 hit and striking out a career high 15 batters. The Red Sox could really use that type of performance from their ace again given how difficult it has been to score runs in this series.
- Stephen Drew will get the day off with a lefty on the mound, so Jonathan Herrera will start at SS instead.
- Tommy Milone (5-3, 3.56 ERA) will be on the mound for Oakland. His worst start of the season came last month in Boston, when he gave up 6 runs to the Red Sox (when's the last time any pitcher can say that happened?). Milone hasn't given up more than 3 runs in a start since.
- Last year Josh Donaldson had a breakout season, but he's looking to improve on it this year. He seems to be a safe bet to make his first All-Star appearance and should be in the running for AL MVP. Not only because he's the best player on the best team right now, but he also leads the AL with a 4.8 WAR. He's 5th in the AL in HRs (18) and 4th in RBI (55).
- Oakland not only has the highest scoring offense in the majors (383 runs scored), but they also have the best team ERA (2.97) and have by far the best run differential (+136). The next best run differential in the majors is San Francisco at +46. That's a 90 run difference!