In their last two opponents – the Blue Jays in Toronto and the Rays at Fenway Park – the Red Sox were facing teams that, like themselves, were struggling to get to or .500. That won’t be the case this weekend.
Coming off a disappointing and long day at Fenway Park on Thursday, getting swept in a doubleheader by the Rays, the Red Sox host the American League West-leading A’s for three games this weekend, beginning Friday night for the start of their seven-game season series. The A’s enter the series as owners of the best record in the AL, at 18-10. They have the best road record in baseball, at 12-4.
The A’s have a 2.78 ERA, the best mark in the AL and second in baseball. The lead the league in opponents’ average (.221), OBP (.282), and slugging (.326).
Oakland’s offense leads the majors in OBP (.351), batting .283 with 94 runs scored over the last 15 games.
The A’s are coming off a three-game sweep in Texas, scoring a combined 25 runs. Oakland’s pitching staff has a combined 2.85 ERA, best in the American League.
The Sox and A’s split their season series last year, 3-3, with each team winning two of three at home. The A’s outscored the Sox last season 32-21.
• Clay Buchholz (1-2, 6.66) is scheduled to start, opposed by right-hander Dan Straily (1-1, 5.14).
Buchholz is 2-2 with a 7.90 ERA, giving up 24 earned runs over 27 1/3 innings in six career starts against the A’s. It is his highest ERA against any AL team. He has pitched fewer than five innings in three of those six starts. He last faced the A;s on April 30, 2012, earning the win despite allowing six runs on seven hits and five walks.
In his last outing April 26 at Toronto, he started off shaky, giving up three runs in the first inning, before settling down while the Sox offense got going against the struggling Brandon Morrow. Buchholz earned the win, going seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch.
Straily bounced back from a couple of rough outings to beat the Astros on Saturday, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
• A.J. Pierzynski is in the starting lineup, catching and batting seventh. This will be his 1,700th career game catching. He has appeared at catcher in 477 more games than any other active player. Yadier Molina is next, with 1,222 games catching.
• Grady Sizemore has hit.322, going 56-for-174, in 45 career games against the A’s. It is his best batting average against any AL team. He has reached safely in each of his last 23 games against the A’s. It is the longest active on-base streak in baseball against the A’s and tied (with Ichiro Suzuki) for the longest among all players against Oakland since his streak began in 2007
• The A’s have several players and staff who once were in the Sox organization including Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Nick Punto, and Josh Reddick, along with manager Bob Melvin, hitting coach Chili Davis, and pitching coach Curt Young.
• According to Elias, Thursday was the first day the Sox lost a pair of one-run games at Fenway, while having led at one point in each, since losing a doubleheader on Aug. 25, 1934 to the White Sox.