Boston manager Terry Francona left Wednesday night’s game early. It could be argued the rest of the Red Sox have yet to show up in Oakland.
The Athletics try for their first four-game home sweep of the Red Sox in 75 years when the teams conclude their series Thursday afternoon.
Oakland (31-27) is riding a season-high five-game winning streak, while Boston’s four-game losing streak is its longest since a six-game skid last Aug. 25-30 - a run which ended with a three-game sweep at McAfee Coliseum.
With victories in the first three games of this set, the A’s have won seven consecutive home meetings with the Red Sox. They have not swept a four-game home series from Boston (37-21) since May 19-21, 1932, when they were based in Philadelphia.
The Red Sox, who have dropped six of seven games overall, grounded into three double plays in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat - one night after grounding into four twin killings in a 2-0 loss. Boston has hit into at least three double plays in four of its six games this month.
Frustrations boiled over in the eighth inning when Francona received his first ejection of the season for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
“We’re playing well but it’s just not here,” said Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, who also argued with Iassogna after striking out in the sixth but was not ejected. “We don’t have the intensity we had. That’s my view. We have a lot of guys trying, trying, trying, but can’t come through.”
Joe Kennedy provided the latest strong effort from Oakland’s starting rotation, limiting the Red Sox to two runs over seven innings Wednesday. Dan Haren and Lenny DiNardo combined to allow just two runs and six hits over 13 2-3 to help the A’s win the first two games of the series.
Oakland is 7-2 entering the finale of its 10-game homestand, with its starters going 6-1 with a 1.30 ERA to help the team move a season-best four games above .500.
Yet another hot starter, Joe Blanton (5-3, 3.81 ERA), takes the hill for the Athletics on Thursday. The right-hander pitched a career-best three-hitter Saturday night against Minnesota, retiring 19 of the last 20 batters he faced and throwing just 108 pitches in Oakland’s 1-0 win.
“I love going deep in games, eating innings and giving the bullpen a rest - ‘Hey, Blanton’s pitching today, we don’t have to worry about it until the seventh, eighth, ninth,’” Blanton said. “You just get in a pace and flow of the game and just run with it. I’m a guy who prides myself on my command.”
Blanton allowed four runs in seven innings at Boston on May 1, when he did not record a decision in Oakland’s 10-inning, 5-4 victory.
Curt Schilling (5-2, 3.91) gave up two runs and eight hits over seven innings for the Red Sox in that contest, and he’ll oppose Blanton again Thursday.
After going 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in his first seven starts of 2007, Schilling is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA and a lofty .349 opponent batting average over his last five outings. The 40-year-old right-hander yielded four runs and nine hits - two homers - in five innings Saturday versus the New York Yankees, but did not get a decision as the Red Sox rallied to win 11-6.
Schilling is 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 12 career appearances, including eight starts, versus Oakland. Since joining Boston in 2004, he is 22-8 with a 3.22 ERA when pitching after a Red Sox loss.