Boston opened up a three game series against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The Sox play only one team with a winning record for the remainder of the season -- a 4 game, season-ending series against the AL West leading Houston Astros -- so this series marks the beginning of a tremendous opportunity for Boston to distance themselves in the AL East. Oakland is well out of playoff contention owning a 63-80 record entering play Tuesday. A dismal 21-47 on the road, Oakland enters Fenway Park where the Red Sox own the American League's best home winning percentage [.620] -- possessing a 44-27 record. However, both teams had identical 10-10 records through their last 20 games.
It was an important outburst of offense after E-Rod allowed Oakland to take a 1-0 first inning lead. Former Sox INF Jed Lowrie hit his 44th double to drive in a run but it would be the last hit or run Rodriguez allowed in the inning. Starting off the Sox barrage was SS Xander Bogaerts who singled home 1B Sam Travis after Doctor Chill reached second on a single & E9.
The score would remain the same until the 4th inning when Mookie drove in two more runs -- 4th of the game -- upping his season total to 85. Hitting the longest baseball of his Major League career, a 434-foot, two-run bomb he found himself a single & double away from the cycle. That home run made Mookie Betts the first Red Sox player with consecutive 20 Homerun/20 Stolen Base seasons. Let us all take a minute to honor some history by watching Mookie go bridge.
Vazquez & JBJ hit back-to-back opposite field doubles in the 5th inning. Vaz's was his 16th double this season and scored Bogaerts, who reached base 4 times, from second-base. Over his last 16 games at Fenway Park, Vazquez is batting over .430, with 5 2B, 2 HR, and 11 RBI. I've been saying for some time now, Vaz is Boston's best catcher and needs to be in the lineup as much as possible. JBJ's double allowed Vazquez to score and the Sox extended their lead to 9-1. But they weren't done, or should I be specific and say, Mookie Betts wasn't done.
Farrell sent out RHP Carson Smith for the 8th inning. Smith has been good in his two games since joining the club for the first time in since having Tommy John surgery in 2016. Entering the night he hadn't allowed a walk or run & had only allowed 2 hit while punching out 2 hitters. Tuesday night wasn't the smoothest of Smith's career outings. He walked his first batter on 5 pitches. The rest of inning could have gone a lot worse if it weren't for Future HOFer Rafael Devers flashing his "not-ready-for-the-big-leagues-glove."
The Red Sox will take a 4 game AL East lead, with just 18 games left to play, into Wednesday. Oakland will send 25-year-old Jharel Cotton to the rubber against Boston's unlikely Godsend, Doug Fister. The Fist is 8-7 with a 2.88 ERA vs Oakland in 17 career starts. Fister has been more valuable to Boston's rotation than anyone ever expected and has placed himself in a position to start aplayoff game in October.
Photo Credit - Boston Red Sox