Already having stumbled to their second three-game losing streak in the last week, the Boston Red Sox won’t have long to get over their most recent defeat.
After dropping a 12-inning heartbreaker Tuesday night in Oakland, the Red Sox will try to bounce back in time for Wednesday’s matinee as they attempt to stop the Athletics from a three-game sweep in the finale of Boston’s West Coast trip.
The Red Sox (2-6) are off to their worst start since opening 2-12 in 1996, and their latest loss was hardly encouraging. After their beleaguered lineup struck for three runs in the top of the first inning, starter Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed five in the bottom half before leaving the game with arm fatigue.
Boston managed just two runs in the next 11 innings, losing 6-5 on Travis Buck’s infield single with the bases loaded and two outs in the 12th.
The sixth loss in their last seven contests increased the Red Sox’s early deficit in the AL East to four games. They’ll need a win Wednesday to avoid carrying a four-game slide into the opener of a nine-game homestand Friday against Baltimore.
“It’s not what we’re looking for, but hopefully we’ll get this turned around, get a good quality start (Wednesday), and go from there,” Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said.
While Boston’s bullpen pitched 10 shutout innings before allowing the winning run Tuesday, the Red Sox continue to struggle offensively. Five regulars are hitting .206 or lower, including veterans David Ortiz and Mike Lowell and reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia.
Oakland, meanwhile, has ramped up its offensive production, totaling 14 runs in the first two games of this series. The A’s (4-4) have now won five straight at home against Boston, including a sweep May 23-25 last season.
Wakefield (0-1, 4.50 ERA) won’t have to wait long for another chance to reverse his recent problems in the western half of the country.
The knuckleballer has dropped seven straight road starts against AL West opponents, with a 7.51 ERA in those outings. He hasn’t won in Oakland since 1999, and he gave up eight runs in five innings in his lone start there last year.
Wakefield is twice the age of Oakland starter Brett Anderson, a highly touted 21-year-old left-hander who lost his major league debut Friday.
Joining Oakland’s rotation after making only six previous starts above Single-A, Anderson (0-1, 7.50) gave up five runs in six innings of a 5-4 loss to Seattle, yielding all the runs in the second inning as the Mariners strung together five hits.
“It looked worse than it was, but I still have to eliminate the big inning,” Anderson said. “It got a little out of hand.”
He’ll become the third straight young A’s southpaw to face Boston. The Red Sox struggled against Dallas Braden on Monday in an 8-2 loss, but they chased Dana Eveland after 4 2-3 innings Tuesday, racking up five runs and eight hits.
Playing his second game against the Red Sox after spending the most successful years of his career in Boston, Oakland’s Nomar Garciaparra left Tuesday’s game with a calf injury. Garciaparra had already been replacing injured A’s third baseman Eric Chavez, who is likely out until at least Friday.