The A's had to leave the brooms in the closet once again as they failed to capitalize on what would have been their first sweep of the season.
I'm going to try and remain positive. Taking three of four from one of the American League's preeminent powers is a good series, even if the sweep was there for the taking. The BoSox turned Sunday's game into a track meet right from the outset.
Boston got on the board in the first inning after a Mookie Betts walk and a Dustin Pedroia single. The outfield was shifted quite a ways to towards left field which allowed Pedroia's dying quail to land in short right. Pedroia was thinking double out of the box and Canha's throw into second was about twenty feet wide allowing Betts to come around and score.
Triggs then spiked a slider that Phegley couldn't corral which allowed Pedroia to advance to third. Pedroia would score on an Andrew Benintendi sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox were rolling.
The A's struck back quickly though, adding a run in the second, and two more in the fourth. Chad Pinder was part of all things good for Oakland, scoring twice and notching two RBIs. But the lead would be short-lived, and Pinder would turn out to be the only productive hitter Sunday afternoon.
The Red Sox scored twice in the fifth and then twice again in the sixth. I referenced a track meet earlier? The Sox ran on our outfielders - particularly Canha and Khris Davis. They ran on our infielders, hustling out singles. They ran on our pitchers. And in turn, they ran on our catchers. While Phegley did throw out one would-be base stealer, he didn't have much of a chance on any of the others.
The Sox stole four bases on the day. And when you add three errors to the mix, it's hard to beat anyone.
Triggs was very hit and miss. He gave up eight hits in five-plus innings, walking three, but also struck out seven and did enough to keep the A's in the game. But the bullpen couldn't contain the Sox offense. Wahl and Coulombe both had solid outings, and Axford wasn't bad either, although he did concede a run. But as far out of reach as the game felt, Oakland was still in the game through eight innings (especially considering our long ball potential) when Josh Smith allowed five runs.
Again, it's not all bad. The A's still took three of four from one of the most talented teams in baseball, and are still hovering close enough to .500 to leave a sliver of hope in our hearts. But every Sunday I feel like I write about how you can't win when you can't play defense, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of that changing (though I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Rajai's awesome double play).
The A's will continue to hit home runs and should continue to get pretty good starting pitching. But as long as we keep allowing runs at the margins through the failures of the defense and the bullpen, we're going to keep treading through mediocrity. The good news is Miami comes into town on Tuesday and presents another very winnable series. We're not out of it just yet, although the season is starting to not feel so young anymore. Thoughts?