Preview of the A’s-Red Sox series By Jerry Feitelberg

Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt will start against the Boston Red Sox to open the series at Fenway Park on Tue May 11, 2021. Bassitt is seen here pitching against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wed May 5, 2021 (photo from AP News)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s start a nine-game road trip Tuesday evening against the Boston Red Sox. The A’s then play three in Minnesota and finish the trip in Houston with three against the Astros.

The Red Sox and A’s have been rivals since 1901. Both teams are charter members in the American League. The A’s have represented three cities-Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland. The teams have played in Fenway Park since 1912. Each team has won nine World Series Championships.

The A’s and Red Sox have met four times in the AL Playoffs. The Red Sox beat the A’s in 1975 to go to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The A’s sent the Red Sox home in 1988 and 1990. The A’s went to the World Series in those years. Boston beat the A’s in 2003 in the AL Division series. Boston did not make it to the World Series that year.

Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions. The A’s record is 21-15. They own a two-game lead over the Houston Astros. The Red Sox are 22-13 and are leading the New York Yankees by 3 1/2 games. The Red Sox are finishing a four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles Monday night.

The A’s have announced that righty Chris Bassitt will go for Oakland Tuesday night. Bassitt is 2-2 with an ERA of 3.70. Bassitt has pitched well for Oakland and has been reliable so far this year. The Red Sox will counter with Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi is 4-2 with an ERA of 4.62. In seven career starts against Oakland, Eovaldi is 1-2 with an ERA of 4.28.

On Wednesday, the Red Sox will send lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill. Rodriguez is 5-0 with an ERA of 3.82. Due to injuries to Mike Fiers and Jesus Luzardo, the A’s have not announced a starter for either Wednesday or Thursday. Garrett Richards, the former Angel, will go for Boston on Thursday. Richards, this season, is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.54. In 18 games(14 starts), Richards is 3-4 with an ERA of 4.29.

The Red Sox did not fare well in the 2020 season. The ace of the staff, Chris Sale, had Tommy John surgery. Sale will pitch later this year. Eduardo Rodriguez came down with Covid-19 last year. Rodriguez had complications and missed the entire year. Nathan Eovaldi was hurt.

The Red Sox bullpen was a mess. Things have changed for Boston in 2021. The Starters have been reliable, and General Manager Chaim Bloom has rebuilt the bullpen. The Red Sox are currently in first place in the AL West. The Sox, as usual, are loaded with guys that can hit. Their designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, has been on a tear to start the season. Martinez is hitting .331 with ten home runs and 31 RBIs.

His ten dingers tie him with Shohei Ohtani for first in the AL. He leads the AL with 31 RBIs. His OPS of 1.075 is third-best in the league. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is hitting .349. Bogaerts has seven homers and 20 RBIs. His OPS is .985. Leftfielder Alex Verdugo, who came to Boston in the trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, is hitting .306 with four dingers and 16 RBIs.

Third baseman Rafael Devers’ batting average is .288. Devers has slammed eight home runs and driven in 28. The Red Sox will have Bobby Dalbec at first base, Marwyn Gonzalez at second. Franchy Cordero will be the centerfielder, and Hunter Renfroe will be in right field. Christian Vasquez will handle most of the catching.

The Red Sox bullpen will be staffed by Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Andriese, Garrett Whitlock, Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, and the closer’s role is handled by Matt Barnes. Barnes has eight saves in eight opportunities so far this year.

The A’s need t get their offense going if they hope to have success in Fenway. The A’s need big games from Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman. The Red Sox can put a lot of runs on the board. The A’s pitchers need to shut down the Boston offense. If the A’s get good pitching, timely hitting, and solid defense, they can hold their own with Boston’s Big Boppers. The A’s would love to get the first win Tuesday night to get the road trip off on a high note.

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