On Jose Canseco Bobblehead Night, the A’s once again got bashed by the Boston Red Sox.
After delivering a 16-2 bludgeoning in the series opener, the Red Sox followed up with a 17-hit onslaught en route to a 11-2 victory over Oakland Saturday night at the Coliseum, the fifth straight game this year Boston has scored double-digit runs against the beleaguered A’s, who lost their fifth straight before a crowd of 30,045.
Oakland starter Daniel Mengden (1-6) gave up seven runs over the first 2 2/3 innings on eight Red Sox hits, including a two-run double by Mookie Betts in the first inning that got things rolling.
Boston broke things open with a seven-run third, and did it all after two out and nobody on. Hanley Ramirez hit his 20th home run to start the scoring parade, followed by four subsequent doubles in the inning by Sandy Leon, rookie Yoan Moncada (the Cuban top prospect’s first major-league hit), Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz, who had three hits in the game including a pair of doubles.
In short, Mengden was overmatched on this night against a team on fire offensively, even though manager Bob Melvin actually liked what he saw from his righthander’s stuff. Mengden was making his first start since being optioned to Triple-A on July 26, so this was a tough, almost unfair return assignment.
“What (the Red Sox) did is they made him work, and that’s what they do,” Melvin said. “When they’re swinging the bat well, they foul balls off, they make you throw a ton of pitches, they make you work hard and then you throw it over the plate and they whack it.”
Indeed, Mengden threw 76 pitches and despite not even finishing the third inning. Remarkably, in the third, he retired Ortiz and Betts on grounders to third base to start off the inning and then never got another out. Five straight hitters reached base until Melvin finally went to reliever John Axford, who gave up three more hits before finally ending the inning.
Mengden, who was terrific over his first four starts for the A’s in June, conceded that he ran out of answers against the powerful Boston lineup.
“They’re always tough to face, whether they’re hot or not … they have a lot of great hitters,” he said. “I felt good, but I fell behind too much. When you give a team like that good counts and places to take advantage, they did. Even when I made some good pitches when I was behind, they still hit it.”
As if the battering by Boston bats wasn’t bad enough – the Red Sox led 9-0 after three innings — starter Rick Porcello (19-3) did not allow a baserunner through the first 5 1/3 innings until Jake Smolinski doubled over the head of the left fielder Chris Young with one out in the sixth. Smolinski subsequently scored on Bruce Maxwell’s single to make it 9-1.
The A’s, who managed just five hits, added their second run in the seventh on an RBI single by Yonder Alonso. Four of Oakland’s hits and both runs came against Porcello, who pitched the first seven innings and didn’t walk a batter while striking out two.
The Red Sox have now beaten the A’s by scores of 14-7, 13-5, 13-3, 16-2 and 11-2 this year, an aggregate of 67-19 heading into Sunday’s season finale between the two teams. Melvin said the formula is not that hard to figure out.
“Teams that take a lot of pitches and make you throw a lot of pitches, it’s like a boxer – it’s just body blows and body blows and then they get in a good one,” Melvin said. That’s really what they do. We had teams like that a few years ago, too, where we made teams work and all of a sudden there was a big inning.”
It was an important victory for Boston, which moved into a tie for first place in the American League East with Toronto. The A’s, meanwhile, now are in last place by three games in the A.L. West. Oakland’s “tragic” number from being officially eliminated from the postseason was reduced to three.
–Melvin said that even though catcher Josh Phegley is out of the hospital, his season is done. Phegley has been suffering from synovitis, an infection in his right knee, and has also had to deal with a case of strep throat. The manager wasn’t sure if the two maladies were related.
–Sonny Gray’s quest to pitch again this season is also in doubt. He continues to long-toss, but as Melvin said, “Until we get him on a mound (for a bullpen session), I think it’s still kind of uncertain.”
–Canseco on his bobblehead likeness: “It looks like a pre-steroid era bobblehead. It’s got me kind of skinny. In the steroid era, I would have been more beefed up.”