Two teams that saved their best for last in the series opener will try to get their bats going earlier Saturday night when the Boston Red Sox and the host Oakland Athletics continue their three-game set.
Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez was the hero on offense and defense in the 10th inning Friday as Boston won 3-2, its eighth consecutive victory.
Playing for the first time since the announcement that they’d been voted All-Star starters by the fans, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts also contributed to the win as Boston opened a six-game trip.
Devers did his damage with the bat. He collected two hits, including Boston’s only extra-base hit of the game, a double that drove in his club’s first run.
Bogaerts helped send the game into extra innings with a run-saving diving stop in short left field on a Frank Schwindel single in the second inning. The A’s had to hold Chad Pinder at third base, where he got stranded in a scoreless game.
“They feed off each other a lot,” teammate Nathan Eovaldi said of Devers and Bogaerts. “They’re always hanging around each other and giving each other a hard time but keeping each other on their toes.
“We have expectations of how we think guys should play, and they live up to it every day. It’s great having them over there defensively, offensively. And it’s a great thing for them to be able to make the All-Star Game.”
Attempting to equal a season-best, nine-game winning streak, the Red Sox will send right-hander Garrett Richards (4-5, 4.96 ERA) up against Oakland lefty Cole Irvin (6-7, 3.64) in the rematch.
Richards hasn’t won since May 19, a seven-game stretch during which he went 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. Boston has won four of the past five times he’s started, including 6-5 on Monday against the Kansas City Royals.
The former Los Angeles Angels mainstay is plenty familiar with the A’s, having started against them 15 times in his career and faced them 19 times in all. He went 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA in those games.
Richards has thrown 51 2/3 innings in Oakland, which is more than he has pitched in any venue (including Fenway Park) other than Angel Stadium. He has gone 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA on the Athletics’ home turf.
He will be facing an A’s team that was held scoreless on just one hit by Eduardo Rodriguez over six innings in the series opener before scoring twice on solo homers by Jed Lowrie and Elvis Andrus in the eighth and ninth innings.
Lowrie added a second hit, a 10th-inning single. However, later in the inning, Oakland was denied a possible tying run when Hernandez threw out Seth Brown at the plate trying to score on a flyball.
A’s manager Bob Melvin liked what he saw of his offense late with the game on the line.
“We haven’t been swinging great, but we got some big hits when we needed to,” he said. “I feel we’re going to break out any day. We just need to sustain a big game, and it tends to get contagious.”
Irvin has never faced the Red Sox as a starter. His only appearance against them in his three-year, major league career came in 2019 in relief for the Philadelphia Phillies, when he pitched two innings of shutout ball in a no-decision.
The 27-year-old is coming off his best outing of the season. Irvin threw eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out eight, in a 6-2 road win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
–Field Level Media