#922 Oakland A'svs.#921 Boston Red Sox
Written by Matt Severance
Boston Red Sox (21-19, 19-19-2 O/U) at Oakland A’s (18-23, 23-18 O/U)
When/Where: Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Oakland Coliseum
Moneylines: Red Sox -127, A’s +117; total: 8.5
I have a feeling the Oakland A’s will be eager to see Boston pitcher Drew Pomeranz on Saturday. Why? Pomeranz is solid enough, but the A’s had to deal with superstar Sox lefty Chris Sale on Friday night. Pomeranz is no Chris Sale. Oakland starts its own southpaw here.
I was half-right on the opener of this series on Thursday night. I recommended Boston on the moneyline and the over on the total. The Red Sox lost 8-3. Because of injuries to their rotation, the Red Sox had to start 28-year-old rookie and former Mexican Leaguer Hector Velazquez. He may not get another chance as Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis hit first-inning homers off him – the first A’s back-to-back homers of the season — and Chad Pinder added a homer in the fourth inning. Velazquez went five innings and allowed six runs and nine hits. With David Price (elbow) almost ready to return to the rotation, Velazquez will be making one more start for the Sox, at most, before he returns to Triple-A Pawtucket. Boston was held to six hits – Mitch Moreland had a homer – by Sonny Gray and four relievers. The Sox gave young outfielder Andrew Benintendi the night off. He was in a 0-for-26 slump. Benintendi was considered the No. 1 overall prospect in MLB entering this season and a top AL Rookie of the Year candidate. He should be in there the rest of the weekend.
As for Pomeranz (3-3, 5.29), he comes off a scare against the Rays last Sunday. Pomeranz lasted just three innings and allowed two runs with three walks – coming after an even worse outing vs. Baltimore – and was pulled after developing tightness in his left triceps. Warming up for the fourth inning, Pomeranz felt tightness in his left triceps and left. The initial diagnosis was similar to the injury that caused Pomeranz to open the season on the disabled list. That kind of thing can lead to major injury and surgery. But an MRI cleared Pomeranz, and he’s good to go here. Pomeranz pitched for the A’s in 2014-15, going 10-10 with a 3.08 ERA.
Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso sat out Wednesday in Seattle and Thursday’s opener vs. Boston with a sore left knee. He had an MRI on Thursday that showed no structural damage and will likely miss at least a couple of days. “I think maybe one or two more days … depending on what they want to do. We’ll see how it goes, we’ll see how I react to the treatment, we’ll see how I react to the rehab process and then go from there. I think we’re heading in the right direction,” he said Thursday. Alonso leads the major leagues with eight home runs in May and is second in the American League this month with 15 RBIs. He also leads AL first baseman this year with his 12 home runs, which is already a career high, 29 RBIs, .624 slugging percentage and is second with a .370 on-base percentage. Ryon Healy filled in at first base and batted fifth Thursday.
It’s young lefty Sean Manaea for Oakland and he’s expected to be a big part of this team’s future. The 25-year-old is 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA but was the 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft by Kansas City and the big piece back to Oakland in the Ben Zobrist trade a couple of years ago. Manaea was activated from the 10-day disabled list Monday and started in Seattle. He had been sidelined nearly three weeks because of tightness in his pitching shoulder. Manaea took the loss vs. the Mariners, allowing four runs on just two hits over five innings with seven strikeouts and a season-high-tying five free passes. Wildness is his problem. Manaea has a nice strikeout rate of 10.4 K/9 but also walks 5.2 batters per nine innings. That’s way too high. The five walks in Seattle were in the first two innings but then Manaea settled down and retired his final 10 batters in a row.
Pomeranz has been terrible away from home with a 0-2 record and 7.71 ERA in two starts, but it’s a big advantage that he might not have to face Alonso. Jed Lowrie hits Pomeranz well, going 3-for-5 with a homer. Manaea is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA at home this year. Mookie Betts is 2-for-2 with a homer off him. The Red Sox are 8-1 in their last 9 during Game 3 of a series.
Two pitchers that you can’t really trust here; Pomeranz might not even make it very far if he’s not 100 percent. Both teams also tend to hit left-handed pitchers well. I actually though this total would be about a run higher — if it wasn’t in pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum, it might have been.
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Matt has been a sports journalist for nearly two decades. He is a former sports editor/writer at two newspapers and a magazine. Went full-time freelance sports writer in 2008 -- not by choice then but became a life-changing decision in the best possible way. Consider myself expert on all major US sports. If you are looking for Curling or Badminton expertise, etc., I'm not your guy.