If we had known how utterly dominant Jon Lester was going to be -- 8 shutout innings, 1 hit, and a career high 15 Ks -- we would have figured the Red Sox could make do with any one of the 3 booming homeruns served up by Tommy Milone.
However, 5 batters into his effort, Milone sucked most of the drama out of the game when he served up a grand slam to Jonny Gomes. Fun. Speaking of sucking, Milone is a better pitcher than he showed today but today he was awful. He gave up 3 HRs in just 4+ IP, but perhaps as troubling he also walked 4.
As A.J. Griffin proved last year and Milone himself the year before, you can be a solid back-of-the-rotation SP and still give up a derriere-load of HRs. But if Milone starts walking batters -- and the 1st inning has been especially an issue in this regard, including today when he walked 2 of the first 3 batters ahead of the slam -- he's in trouble.
The scoring in this game through 8 innings was pretty simple: Gomes' grand slam in the 1st, David Ortiz' solo HR in the 3rd, David Ross' solo HR in the 4th. Milone has now made 2 career starts at Fenway Park and has allowed 3 HRs in each one.
Milone's ugly line today: 4+ IP, 6 hits, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 3 HR. If there was a bright spot today (and there wasn't) it was the work of Oakland's bullpen (Dan Otero 2 IP, Luke Gregerson 1 IP, Sean Doolittle 1 IP) tossing 4 perfect innings.
The A's lone hit off of Lester came in the top of the 3rd, a bloop single to RF by Craig Gentry. Finally free of Lester, Oakland did its best try at a teAse in the 9th against Chris Capuano. Nick Punto doubled, Coco Crisp singled, Jed Lowrie's double brought home home 2 runs, thanks in part to an E7 on Gomes, to make it 6-2. Donaldson was hit by a pitch, Koji Uehara was summoned with a 1-0 count on Yoenis Cespedes, and proceeded to walk Cespedes to load the bases. Suddenly the A's had the tying run at the plate with nobody out.
To me, the A's had 3 pitches thereafter where they could have come up with the dramatic hit that could have put an exclamation point on the teAse. Uehara pitched Derek Norris tough and got a squibber back to the mound, but the attempt at a 1-2-3 DP was foiled when catcher David Ross airmailed the throw to 1B. The A's wound up with a run to make it 6-3 and runners at 2B and 3B.
Uehara fell behind 3-1 to Alberto Callaspo and threw a fastball right out over the plate. Callaspo fouled it back, then struck out on a 3-2 splitter. Brandon Moss, pinch-hitting for Josh Reddick, got ahead in the count 3-0 and got a great pitch to drive. In fairness to Moss, it was a splitter at 79 MPH in a fastball count, and maybe that was enough to stop Moss from pulling the trigger. Moss watched it go by, belt high right over the plate, for strike one. Then he got another good pitch to hit and smoked it to RF, but on a line right at Jackie Bradley Jr., for the game's final out.
Sonny Gray tries to help the A's avoid a series sweep tomorrow against John Lackey. In games started by Gray, Kazmir, or Chavez Oakland is 18-2, so perhaps better times are ahead over the next 72 hours.