Trying the same thing a second time and expecting a different result might not be so insane after all.
Oakland A’s starting pitcher Chris Bassitt did just that, turning in a repeat performance from his last start and this time seeing it yield a 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Tuesday’s series opener at Fenway Park.
In his previous start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Bassitt worked seven innings and allowed just two runs, but the bullpen behind him blew the lead for the first time this season. Tonight he tried it again, with seven frames and two runs against the Sox, and his sparkling effort was rewarded as the relievers held on for the save.
One of the runs Bassitt allowed was a gift. In the 1st inning he followed a single with two wild pitches to grant the runner a bonus 180 feet to third base, where a sac fly easily scored him. But that began a straight Red Sox batters retired, before a single in the 6th that was left stranded. In the 7th, he finally made a mistake to Rafael Devers and saw it go over the Green Monster for a solo homer.
- Bassitt: 7 ip, 2 runs, 10 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR, 3 hits, 86 pitches, 87.8 mph EV
Simply dominant, even with a couple loud outs mixed in. Other than the homer, the only time Boston even got to second base was when Bassitt handed it to them with a wild pitch.
Chris Bassitt on his first inning: "I think Fenway got the best of me." He said he grew up dreaming about pitching in Fenway Park. Tonight was his first start there.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) May 12, 2021
It’s his fifth straight quality start, and his sixth time in a row allowing exactly two runs. For the season he now has 53 strikeouts to 12 walks, an enormous ratio of 4.4 K/BB.
Just enough scoring
After the Red Sox snagged a free run in the 1st, the A’s doinked one right back in the 4th against starter Nathan Eovaldi. Outfielder Seth Brown worked a leadoff walk, then moved up on a groundout, and then Matt Olson hit a hard-but-not-smashed grounder through the shift for an RBI.
The score stayed that way until the 7th, with Bassitt and Eovaldi locked in a tight duel. But then Boston’s bullpen came in, and immediately blinked.
Leadoff walk by Olson. Single by Jed Lowrie. Single by Matt Chapman. Three batters into the Red Sox relief corps, and Oakland had already broken the tie, without even recording any outs.
The next two batters couldn’t get the insurance run home from third base, but Elvis Andrus laced a single to right field to get the job done. That made it 3-1 A’s, and they ended up needing the extra RBI from Andrus since Devers homered a few moments later.
Bullpen comes through
Now for the moment of truth. The A’s got the great effort from their starter. They got just enough scoring from their lineup. Now all they needed was six outs from their bullpen.
First up was Yusmeiro Petit for the 8th inning. He got two quick outs, and then a comeback grounder squirted out of his glove for a single. No matter, the runner was soon stranded.
Then Jake Diekman for the 9th. He walked the leadoff batter, then a strikeout followed by a walk, and the suspense increased. A groundout moved the lead runner to third, just 90 feet away from tying the score. But a popout ended it.
Back on track
Oakland lost the last game of their recent homestand, but now they’re back in the win column. They blew their last Bassitt gem, but this time they cashed in. And they took the first meeting against the first-place Red Sox, moving into a tie with each other for the best record in the entire AL. Just plain crazy.