Now that they’ve had the chance to get a good night’s sleep, perhaps the Boston Red Sox will be able to avoid their longest losing streak of the season.
The suddenly slumping Red Sox, losers of two straight games and four of five, try to bounce back Tuesday night when they continue their four-game series with the Oakland Athletics.
Boston (37-19) owns baseball’s best record and a 10-game AL East lead over Toronto, but has hit its first true rough patch of 2007. The Red Sox, who had dropped consecutive games only two other times all season, have done so twice since last Wednesday.
After losing 6-5 at home to the New York Yankees on Sunday night in a game that lasted more than four hours, the Red Sox didn’t arrive in their Bay Area hotel until 5:30 a.m. local time Monday. Then, Monday night’s series opener wound up an 11-inning contest, won 5-4 by the A’s on Eric Chavez’s homer off Kyle Snyder.
The unforgiving schedule didn’t sit well with Boston manager Terry Francona, whose team is trying to avoid its first three-game skid.
“The schedule, the way it is and with interleague play, we’re not going to be able to field our (best) nine guys much on this trip,” Francona told the Red Sox’s official Web site. “That’s just a fact. I’m probably going to have to sit Manny (Ramirez) when he has a good matchup against a great pitcher. I don’t see any way around it.
“I would think at some point (Major League Baseball) would re-examine their thinking behind this and change it. That’s a thought I had about 4:30 a.m.”
Boston’s Coco Crisp was a late scratch Monday due to an upset stomach. Wily Mo Pena started in center field in Crisp’s place, and hit his fourth home run of the season and added an RBI single in the ninth—scoring pinch-runner Crisp— to send the game to extra innings.
Chavez’s 11th-inning heroics almost overshadowed the performance of Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis. Ellis became the first A’s player to hit for the cycle since Eric Byrnes on June 29, 2003. He is also the first hitter from any team to complete the cycle against Boston since 1978.
“They did a good job battling,” Ellis said of the Red Sox. “We know they got in late last night, but they’re got a lot of pride over there. It’s a great win for us. We persevered and kept fighting. There were plenty of chances to give up.”
Oakland (29-27) has won three straight and is seeking to match its season-high four-game run from April 15-20. To try and accomplish the feat, the A’s will send former Red Sox left-hander Lenny DiNardo (1-2, 1.80 ERA) to the mound.
DiNardo pitched for Boston from 2004-06, but was acquired off waivers by Oakland in February. Making his first start for the Athletics after 11 relief appearances, DiNardo yielded four runs—only one earned—and four hits in 5 1-3 innings against Texas last Tuesday, getting charged with the loss in a 4-0 defeat.
He’ll be opposed by Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-3, 4.83), who looks to put a pair of subpar outings behind him. Following a three-start stretch in which he allowed just five runs over 24 innings, the Japanese right-hander has yielded 11 in 10 2-3 innings over his last two starts.
On Wednesday against Cleveland, Matsuzaka saw his personal six-game winning streak snapped. He gave up six runs and a season-high 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings as the Red Sox fell 8-4.
The Japanese rookie has never faced Oakland.