The Big Hurt snaps Sox seven game winning streak with a 3-for-4 night in Oakland’s 8-3 win

The Big Hurt snaps Sox seven game winning streak with a 3-for-4 night in Oakland’s 8-3 win

(May 23, 2008) – Like the Celtics in the post-season away from the TD Banknorth Garden, the Red Sox road woes continue with a late night 8-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics behind starter Rich Harden. In his third appearance against the Red Sox this season, the Oakland right hander continued his dominance over Boston leading to his third win of the season.

Harden began the game on fire, retiring the first 10 Red Sox batters before giving up second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s third homerun of the season to left on a 2-1 count. In six innings, the Athletics starter allowed two runs on four hits while striking out eight Sox before turning the game over to right handed reliever Joey Devine. Devine pitched two innings allowing one run on two hits while striking out two before handing the ball off to Oakland closer Huston Street in a non-save situation.

Oakland batters knocked the Sox knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield around early in the game. With one out in the bottom of the first, shortstop Bobby Crosby doubled down the left field line and scored on a base hit into center, just out of the reach of Pedroia, by left fielder Jack Cust. After beginning the season with the Toronto Blue Jays, Frank Thomas found himself back with Athletics, the team he played with last year. Once again, against the Red Sox, The Big Hurt did what he does best and lined a shot over Manny Ramirez’s head and into no-man’s land beyond the left field fence to give the A’s the 3-0 lead.

The Athletics knocked Wake around again two innings later when Jack Cust walked with one out in the third. After hitting a homerun in his last at-bat, Thomas lined a single a base hit into left field, sending Cust to second and bringing Ryan Sweeney to the plate with one out. Cust would advance to third on a passed ball that tipped off catcher Kevin Cash’s oversized catcher’s mitt and would score on line drive into right by Sweeney three pitches later. After Wakefield got right fielder Emil Brown to strike out for the second time in the game, Mark Ellis put the icing on the cake with a three-run homerun to cap off the four run inning and giving the A’s the 7-0 advantage.

The Sox tried chip away at Oakland’s lead with Pedroia’s homerun in the top of the fourth and a two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth by Jacoby Ellsbury. Two innings later Lugo led off the inning with a base hit to third, the Sox shortstop advanced to second on third baseman Jack Hannahan’s throwing error. Making the most of his opportunity in the majors, the rookie outfielder drove in Lugo with Boston’s third run of the game. With just one out in the fifth, Ellsbury on first and Pedroia at the dish, the inning looked very promising with the two big guys looming in the on-deck circle and in the hole. But the inning was wiped out when the rookie was snapped back to reality trying to steal his 20th bag of the season.

Down by five runs the Red Sox needed base runners. Although Ellsbury has good speed, stealing second trailing 8-3 and the power hitters coming up was not the smartest idea in the world. With his speed he would have scored any way with a base hit into the spacious outfield of McAfee Coliseum and even if it was a base hit right at an outfielder, the Sox would have had first and third with Ortiz at the plate and one out. (Even though there was the chance Pedroia could have grounded into an inning ending double play, I have “identified the negative but [focusing] on the positive.”)

Wakefield would leave the game in the middle of the sixth inning after walking lead off hitter and first baseman Daric Barton and allowing a double to the number nine hitter Kurt Suzuki. Right hander David Aardsma came on in relief of Wakefield and got Hannahan to ground out to Pedroia at second and holding Barton and Suzuki. But they were not there for long, Crosby hit a shallow sacrifice fly to a charging Ellsbury. Even with Ellsbury’s momentum carry him to the plate, Barton was still tagging from third and would score standing up easily as Ellsbury throw came up well short of Cash, for the eighth Oakland run. The book was closed on Wakefield, eight runs on eight hits while he walked and struck out four.

At least look on the bright side, no one in the Sox bullpen will be traded for a bag of bats come July like 26-year-old minor league right hander, John Odom, was earlier today. In relief of Wakefield, Aardsma and Mike Timlin combined to retired the last nine Athletic hitters.

Josh Beckett steps on the Oakland mound tomorrow night in search of his sixth win of the season against Athletics right hander and former Red Sox prospect Justin Duchsherer. At 5-3 with a 4.67 ERA and 56 strike outs, Beckett is coming off an 11-7 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers last Sunday. Although he pitched seven innings, Beckett had one of his worst outings of the season against the Brewers. In seven innings he allowed six runs on six hits with four of the hits being homeruns. Against Oakland, Beckett is 2-2 in four career starts with an ERA over five and 18 strike outs.

Tomorrow’s game two of the series will be the first start for the Oakland right hander against the team that drafted him. Duchsherer will be making his seventh start against Beckett and looks for his fourth win of the 2008 season. The 31-year-old is 3-3 with a 2.67 ERA, 26 strike outs and is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves where he pitched five hits allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out two Brave batters. Against Boston, Duchsherer has appeared in 13 games as a reliever and is 1-0 with one save in 20.1 innings with 23 strike outs, a 2.66 ERA and a .181 opponent’s batting average.

WIN: Rich Harden (3-0)

LOSS: Tim Wakefield (3-3)


Game Notes:

Those Weery Road Blues
The Red Sox are four games under .500 on the road at 10 wins and 14 losses and are 8-3 against the AL West. After getting off to a bad start Oakland is second in the West with a 13-11 record and is 6-6 against the East.

Kevin Youkilis is third in the American League in hitting with a .324 batting average behind Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer’s .333 and AL league leader Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton’s .335 average.

David Ortiz is third in the American League in homeruns and RBIs with 10 round-trippers of the season and 38 RBIs. Josh Hamilton leads the AL triple crown categories with a .335 average (as noted above), 12 homeruns (tied with Chicago’s Carlos Quentin) and 53 RBIs (most in MLB).

Manny Ramirez is still stuck at homerun #498. His last homerun came against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome on May 12. Ramirez has hit a snag in his last 10 games hitting only .229 (8-for-35) with only two extra base hits.

Red Sox hitting coach, Dave Magadan, was ejected from the game in the middle of the top of the sixth inning.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Rich Harden, OAKLAND ---- 6IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BB, 8K
  1. Frank Thomas, OAKLAND --- 3-4 Homerun, 2 RBIs
  1. Dustin Pedroia, BOSTON ---- 1-4 Homerun, RBI


In the top of the seventh inning Ellsbury managed to get himself thrown out trying to steal his 20th bag of the season with the Sox down 8-3. He tried to argue that he was safe but second base umpire, Jeff Nelson, was having no part of the argument. Ellsbury clearly over-slid the bag and was tagged out by shortstop fellow Morman Bobby Crosby.

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