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Game #9: Boston Strikes an Arrow Through A’s Bullpen in 6-3 Victory Over the Green and Gold

Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics
Fernando Rodney allowed the Red Sox to break a 3-3 tie, giving up three runs in the 9th inning of the A’s 6-3 loss. The defeat broke Oakland’s 4 game winning streak.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tonight’s game unfolded in the same fashion as the first two games of the series. Shutout baseball from another Oakland starter and a timely home run from a A’s hitter.
Unfortunately, the A’s bullpen couldn’t keep the Red Sox silent as a three run Oakland lead eventually gave way to a 6-3 loss.

Game Preview + GameThread #1 | GameThread #2

A’s Got On The Board First
The A’s offense got something going in the bottom of the second inning, when Kendrys Morales (it still feels strange seeing him in an Oakland uniform!) singled to left field to lead off the inning and then Jurickson Profar followed with a single to center field to put runners on the corners and nobody out. Shortstop, Marcus Semien, stepped up next and a drew a five pitch walk to load the bases. Then Catcher, Nick Hundley, came to the plate and fans throughout the Coliseum, Bay Area, Nation and World began immediately praying, “No double play, no double play!” Hundley answered our collective prayers with a hard smash off the glove of Red Sox third basemen, Rafael Devers to single home the A’s first run. Unfortunately, the A’s couldn’t plate any more runs in the inning, as both Ramon Laureano (strikeout) and Robbie Grossman (shallow fly ball to center field) failed to drive in runs with runners in scoring position and less than two outs.

Laureano Breaks Out the Bat In the 4th Inning
Ramon Laureano has made a huge impact in the series with his arm. After his disappointing strikeout with the bases loaded in the second inning, he decided to pick up his efforts on the offensive side of the baseball in the fourth inning. He took a breaking ball from Nathan Eovaldi and crushed it to deep center field to give the A’s a 3-0 lead:

Scoreless Streak Continues
A’s starter, Marco Estrada, allowed only one hit thru 4 23 innings to increase the A’s starters scoreless streak to an incredible 16 23 innings against Boston. Look at this incredible stat that Susan Slusser noted mid-game:

The A’s Kryptonite - Back-Up Catchers
Unfortunately, the Red Sox inserted a back-up catcher into tonight’s lineup. It may be just my faulty memory kicking in, but I can’t tell you how many times a back-up catcher has burned the A’s (see Evan Gattis, Robinson Chirinos, Doug Mirabelli, heck even Jose Molina used to crush the A’s). Tonight it was Blake Swihart’s turn as he jumped on a Marco Estrada change-up in the 5th inning to put the Red Sox on the board for the first time in the first three games of the series.

Boston Scores Two More Times in the Sixth Inning to Tie the Game
Mookie Betts lead off with a walk (lead-off walks always hurt). After Estrada got a strikeout, he induced a tailor made double play to second basemen, Jurickson Profar, off the bat of Devers. Except on this occasion, the play didn’t even result in one out as Profar air mailed the throw to Semien covering the bag at second base. After a walk to JD Martinez to load the bases, Bob Melvin came out to get his starter and bring in the bullpen. The first call to the pen was for left-handed, Ryan Buchter. Buchter continued his rough start to 2019, allowing a two run double to Mitch Moreland on his one pitch of the game. JB Wendelken replaced Buchter and closed the inning and pitched a scoreless seventh inning as well. A’s starter, Marco Estrada, ended up with a line of 5 13 innings, two hits, three runs, two runs earned, two walks and three strikeouts.

The A’s bats went quiet after Laureano’s fourth inning blast with only a walk to Stephen Piscotty and a single by Marcus Semien to show for innings five thru eight.
A’s reliever, Joakim Soria, delivered a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts to keep the score knotted at 3.

Fernando Rodney Struggles
The 42 year old veteran reliever still has good stuff with good movement. In other words, no one is arguing that he can’t still get major league hitters out. Unfortunately, so far in 2019, he just doesn’t seem to be able to execute. Tonight he recorded two quick outs in the Red Sox top of the ninth inning (pickoff/caught stealing and via strikeout). Then the wheels came off for Fernando. Blake Swihart singled (back-up catchers!!!!), Jackie Bradley Jr. singled and Rodney wild pitched them to second and third. Rodney recorded two strikes on Mookie Betts, but on a 3-2 pitch (Rodney’s 24th pitch of the inning) Betts hard hit grounder unluckily hit the bag at third base and bounced over the head of Matt Chapman (who most likely could have made a play on the ball if it hadn’t hit the bag) to score Swihart and Bradley Jr. and put the Red Sox up 5-3. I personally don’t think it is time to cut ties with Rodney, but I don’t believe we will be seeing him appear in a future game anytime soon where the A’s have the lead or are tied.

Wasn’t All Rodney’s Fault in the 9th Inning
In Rodney’s defense, two plays in the 9th didn’t do him any favors. Swihart’s single was a very playable ball for A’s second basemen, Jurickson Profar. Profar’s error in the sixth inning and this “ole” play in the ninth were both game changing mistakes for the A’s defense. Betts single hitting the bag was a terrible break as well. Chapman had a good chance to throw Betts out if the ball skips over the bag cleanly.

Yusmeiro Petit replaced Rodney after the Betts double and promptly gave up another run off the bat of Andrew Benintendi, as he tripled off the right field wall to make the score 6-3.

A’s Bats Go Down Quietly
Chad Pinder drew a hit by pitch to lead off the ninth inning, but no other A’s batter could do anything to get on base and the A’s went down quietly in the 9th inning to end the game and end the A’s four game win streak.

Good News!
The A’s still have a chance for the series victory with a win tomorrow afternoon with Brett Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) going for the A’s against the Red Sox and Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA).

Crooner, Michael Buble, was performing next door at Oracle tonight. In the poetic words of one of Buble’s songs : (Tomorrow) “It’s a new dawn, a new day, It’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good.”