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Game Thread #7: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
Athletics celebrate their March 31st victory over the Angels as they hit .500 on the year.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Game #7. Lucky #7? Quite possibly in this “opposites attract” matchup between the Oakland Athletics and the reigning World Champion Boston Red Sox. The A’s, struggling to find the right starting rotation during the spring, ended up finding the perfect combination with lights-out pitching from both starters and relievers. Opposite this stands the BoSox who came into the season with a concern for relief pitching and lots of confidence in their starters. To-date, these Red Sox starters have disappointed. Thus the match-up of “opposites attract.”

For the Athletics (3-3) the quest has been to find a starting rotation to match their stunning defense and indomitable offense. To-date, this defense and offense have proven consistent with Matt Chapman already making gold-glove repeat moves (and batting .364) and Jurickson Profar being nothing but value-added on the right side of the infield.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
Profar turns two, March 29,2019
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Canha, who—with a positive and team-first attitude—has made himself into a strong utility player, has stepped up in the outfield and at first base and demonstrated his offensive skill with a two-run homer, bat-flipping style, on Saturday night.

Khris Davis, despite a shortened spring training is off to a stellar start with his lumber as he joins Mark McGwire (1992) and Jimmie Foxx (1932) as the only Athletics to begin a season with four or more homeruns in the first six games. With three others, Davis leads the American league in homeruns (4) and is tied with three NL players to lead all of Major League Baseball. Marcus Semien, also a hot bat in hand, is currently batting .409, went 2-4 yesterday including a double. And, for those like Ramon Laureano who has had a tougher start, things are coming around; in the case of Ramon, he broke his 0-9 slump yesterday and now stands at 2 for 17 on the season which will hopefully help him relax a bit.

The A’s pitching has been strong and consistent. Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and Brett Anderson finished their starts with six innings of shutout ball—the first time since Sarloos, Zito and Blanton in 2005.

Frankie Montas also pitched six scoreless innings and walked off victorious despite giving up a 7th inning Calhoun homerun. Despite this, and plunking Mike Trout in the first, Montas had a very impressive outing. The Treinen trio of relievers (Trevino-Soria-Treinen) have been strong (don’t let Soria’s ERA fool you); Treinen has two saves to show for the four-game series. It’s a bit early to be definitive but this trio seems to be working with 12 strikeouts in 13.2 collective innings and despite a little shakiness by Treinen on Friday and Saturday night.

On paper, it looks like the A’s may struggle against the Red Sox and the Vegas odds are not in their favor. Aaron Brooks, who nabbed the 5th starter position in the Bay Bridge Series, will face an offense who averaged 9.3 hits per game in 2018.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Sep 20, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Aaron Brooks (36) walks in the dugout before a start against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the sinking action on Brooks’ fastball, we should see a lot of ground balls and the Athletic’s defense will no doubt handle it well. Brooks has a career ERA of 8.01 in 60.2 innings pitched—surrendering 86 hits, 10 of them long-balls.

Meanwhile, Boston’s pitching has struggled in their opening series with the Mariners. Collectively, the starters have a 13.20 ERA, winning only 1 of the 4 games by giving up 22 earned runs and 28 runs total. Their starters lasted fewer than expected innings (Sale just 3 innings on opening day and Porcello just 2.2 innings in yesterday’s loss).


Will Aaron Brooks complete 6 innings?

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David Price will be seeking team redemption and the team’s second win of the season. In his first start of 2019, Price comes off a fairly strong 2018 that yielded 16 wins and a 3.58 ERA. Aaron Brooks has no stats to compare at this point since he only pitched 2.2 innings in 2018 and a total of 60.2 innings pitched since 2014. Brooks allowing just one run in 5 and 2/3rds innings in the Bay Bridge Series win, however, suggests positive stats to come. His 4.40 spring training ERA is a bit deceiving as he also racked up 11 scoreless innings spanning three starts. And, given the fact that Chris Bassitt (out with a bruised shin) and Jesus Luzardo (out for four+ weeks with a sore shoulder) are his key competition for the spot, Brooks will no doubt be pushing hard to rise above these future challengers and demonstrate his added value to this rotation.

Here is today’s lineup:

Today's Lineups

Andrew Benintendi - LF Ramon Laureano - CF
Mookie Betts - RF Matt Chapman - 3B
Rafael Devers - 3B Stephen Piscotty - RF
J.D. Martinez - DH Khris Davis - DH
Xander Bogaerts - SS Chad Pinder - LF
Mitch Moreland - 1B Jurickson Profar - 2B
Brock Holt - 2B Mark Canha - 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. - CF Marcus Semien - SS
Christian Vazquez - C Nick Hundley - C