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Open Game Thread: Game 49 - A's vs. Red Sox

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Lineup

Boston Red Sox @ Oakland Athletics

05/23/08 7:05 PM PDT

Boston Red Sox Oakland Athletics
Jacoby Ellsbury - CF Jack Hannahan - 3B
Dustin Pedroia - 2B Bobby Crosby - SS
David Ortiz - DH Jack Cust - LF
Manny Ramirez - LF Frank Thomas - DH
Mike Lowell - 3B Ryan Sweeney - CF
Kevin Youkilis - 1B Emil Brown - RF
J.D. Drew - RF Mark Ellis - 2B
Julio Lugo - SS Daric Barton - 1B
Kevin Cash - C Kurt Suzuki - C


The A's (25-23) kick off a three-game series at home tonight against the red-hot Red Sox, winners of seven straight games and owners of the best record in baseball (31-19).

After getting roughly 22,300 fans through the turnstiles at the Coliseum for Monday and Tuesday combined - that's right, only 11,000 fans came out to watch Rays-A's baseball on back-to-back nights - the A's drew 22,700 for the afternoon finale on Wednesday.

Expect that to change for a weekend series against the Red Sox - although, as is typical for Red Sox road games, many of those in attendance will be rooting for the wrong team. Few things bother me more than being at an A's game against the Yankees or Red Sox and hearing their fans over our own. Like Paul Byrd says, there's some things you should only do in the privacy of your own home...and rooting for the road team is one of them. It bothers me more with those two teams because I feel like they have enough advantages already - they dont need to play 100-plus games in front of "home" crowds on top of it.

Here's hoping that our Oakland faithful are louder than them tonight. And that Rich Harden and Co. give them reason to be.

The Rich Harden Trade Value Tour makes its third stop since returning from the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. He's made two starts against Boston already this year and been dominant to the tune of a 0.82 ERA.

The A's hope to have Mark Ellis back in the lineup today after missing nine games with a sore left shoulder.

A few facts about tonight's opposing starter, Tim Wakefield: 1.) He is the game's only pitcher who throws knuckleballs almost exclusively. 2.) As such, he has the slowest average velocity of any big league pitcher, and gives pitch f/x analysts fits. He's such an outlier that's he's often excluded from league-wide pitch f/x analysis. 3.) He has perhaps the most unique contract of any major league player, to the chagrin of the MLB Player's Association. Wakefield is on a perpetual, $5 million annual renewable contract at the team's discretion. In other words, not only is he paid millions less than his market value annually, but the Sox have no long-term commitment to him either.

If you get a chance to see the starting lineups before I do and can post them, please do. Go A's!