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Oakland A's at Boston Red sox series preview: Welcome to BABIPtown

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The Oakland Athletics (14-18) visit Fenway Park for three night games against the Boston Red Sox.

Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox are the top run creators in baseball, hitting .281/.341/.454 for a 118 wRC+ despite ranking 10th in the AL in walk percentage (7.9%) and seventh in home runs (32). What they possess is a .333 batting average on balls in play, which is 20 points higher than any other American League foe.

The good news for the A's is that, bizarrely enough, the Red Sox only have an 84 wRC+ against left-handed pitching (10th in the AL), and they're sending Sean Manaea to the mound on Tuesday, and possibly Eric Surkamp on Wednesday, though that still has not been announced. You would think that left-handers would be at a disadvantage against right-handers who can hit a pop fly home run over The Monster, but I guess not this year.

The most pronounced split belongs to left-handed batter Travis Shaw, who is hitting .352/.418/.580 (180 wRC+) against right-handers but .083/.120/.125 (-49 wRC+) against left-handers.

Pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

All three games are East Coast night contests that will be broadcast on CSN California.

Time (PT) TV Oakland Boston
Mon. 4:10 PM CSNCA RHP Sonny Gray (3-3, 4.84) RHP Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.71)
Tue. 4:10 PM CSNCA LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 7.20) RHP Sean O'Sullivan (0-0, 9.00)
Wed. 4:10 PM CSNCA TBD (LHP Eric Surkamp on turn) RHP Rick Porcello (5-1, 2.95)

There was some thought that the A's would finally face another left-handed starter, but the Red Sox demoted Henry Owens earlier this week and called up Sean O'Sullivan to make his first 2016 start on Tuesday. The A's will face Matt Moore or Drew Smyly in Tampa over the weekend, however.

Monday vs. Clay Buchholz

Will the A's see the Clay Buchholz that gave up five runs in four of his six starts this year or will they face the Buchholz that threw quality starts on two occasions? In six starts, Buchholz has given up five home runs. Last year in 18 starts, he gave up six.

Tuesday vs. Sean O'Sullivan

The Phillies saw fit to use Sean O'Sullivan as an innings eater on the way to the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, and boy did the Phillies leave him out there to die last year. They finally outrighted him to the minor leagues on July 7, having put up a 6.08 ERA in 13 starts, including 123 pitches in his final appearance.

The tremendously interesting part is that O'Sullivan is almost entirely a pitch-to-contact pitcher. He hardly strikes out or walk anybody, though he did give up two home runs per nine innings with the Phillies in 2015.

Wednesday vs. Rick Porcello

We all had Rick Porcello owning a top 20 ERA and top 10 K/9 rate in the AL, right? Porcello is outperforming his 3.73 FIP so far this season, but he's only done that in two major league seasons: 2009 and 2014.

Bullpen

Craig Kimbrel is 9-for-10 in save opportunities, and the Boston bullpen joins the A's and three other teams with only two blown saves this year (the Yankees lead with none). The Red Sox Bullpen ranks as average to good with a 3.55 ERA (8th in the AL) and 3.32 FIP (4th). They're well rested after Steven Wright threw a complete game on Sunday Night Baseball:

A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 8-May 7-May 6-May 5-May 4-May 3-May
Ryan Madson R 13.2 1.32 2.34 PPD 19
Sean Doolittle L 12.2 4.26 5.44 3 20
John Axford R 14.0 1.29 3.00 32
Ryan Dull R 18.0 3.00 3.91 32 22 14
Fernando Rodriguez R 19.0 0.95 2.12 20
Marc Rzepczynski L 12.2 1.42 3.55 22 3 5
J.B. Wendelken R 1.1 27.00 12.07 42 22
Liam Hendriks R 16.1 8.27 2.70 36 33
Red Sox bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 8-May 7-May 6-May 5-May 4-May 3-May
Craig Kimbrel R 13.0 3.46 3.30 12
Koji Uehara R 12.1 3.65 2.59 11
Junichi Tazawa R 11.0 2.45 2.89 19 23
Carson Smith R 1.0 0.00 1.07 9
Robbie Ross Jr. L 13.0 2.77 2.76 34
Matt Barnes R 16.0 2.81 3.51 31 19 22
Tommy Layne L 7.0 2.57 4.64 10 10
Heath Hembree R 10.1 0.87 1.81 43