The banged-up Red Sox will again be without David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez when they try to avoid a fifth straight loss as their three-game series against Thomas and the Athletics at McAfee Coliseum continues.
Ortiz and Ramirez—the top two home run hitters for Boston (71-60)—did not play in a 9-0 loss on Monday. Ortiz, who’s tied for the major-league lead with 47 homers, was a late scratch and will be sent home to undergo more tests for an irregular heartbeat.
“He will get a clean bill of health before he plays again,” manager Terry Francona said. “The games are important but we have a responsibility to do what’s right.”
Ramirez missed his fourth start in five games with a sore right knee, and also was sent back to Boston on Tuesday along with outfielder Willy Mo Pena to get further medical tests. Pena will have his sore left wrist examined after missing the last three games.
The sinking Red Sox would probably prefer not to see Thomas in Oakland’s lineup. The designated hitter reached base all four times he batted on Monday, hitting his 28th home run of the year and walking three times.
“It’s been a great comeback year,” said the 38-year-old Thomas, plagued by injuries the past two seasons with the Chicago White Sox. “It’s great to be helping the team, especially in the stretch drive when it counts.”
Thomas is 10-for-24 with a .531 on-base-percentage and 11 RBIs in eight games against Boston this year. He moved into 23rd place on the all-time list with his 476th career homer.
Oakland (75-56) can move a season-best 20 games over .500 with a victory. The A’s lead the second-place Los Angeles Angels by 6 1/2 games in the AL West.
Boston’s injury woes go beyond Ortiz and Ramirez. Wily Mo Pena (left wrist) and Doug Mirabelli (left ankle) are also out and Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon are not ready to come off the disabled list yet.
The result was a patchwork lineup on Monday that included first baseman Carlos Pena—recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket before the game—and rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia as the Red Sox fell a season-high seven games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
Boston has lost four straight games, its third losing streak of at least that many games this month. The Red Sox are a major league-worst 8-19 in August.
Kirk Saarloos (6-6, 4.66) seeks to win his third straight start since returning to the rotation for Oakland. Saarloos is pitching for the first time since Aug. 20, when he allowed two runs and scattered 11 hits over six innings of a 6-4 victory at Kansas City.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA in six starts this year when pitching on at least six days’ rest.
Saarloos is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in three career starts against Boston—all last season. He’s made three relief appearances against the Red Sox this year, posting a 4.05 ERA over 6 2-3 innings.
Boston starter Josh Beckett (14-8, 5.21) looks to match his career high in wins from last season with Florida. Beckett ended a personal three-game losing streak last Thursday by giving up one run and four hits over six-plus innings in a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“I think a lot of things go into it, the way you feel that day,” said Beckett, who left in the seventh inning due to blister problems. “I don’t think you can pinpoint one thing.”
The right-hander is 1-1 with an 8.71 ERA in two starts against Oakland this season.