Do you know one thing the Oakland Athletics (25-66) need this season? Wins. Do you know one thing they definitely don't need? Getting players removed from their starting lineups on a daily basis.
That's what has happened of late to the A's as they couldn't use chalked-in starter Paul Blackburn (illness) in their 10-3 defeat to the Boston Red Sox (47-43) on Saturday.
Austin Pruitt (1-6) took the mound for the Athletics opposite James Paxton (5-1) and he paid for getting the news about it just unexpected start barely an hour before the game was scheduled to get going inside the world-renowned Fenway Park.
That said, this game was one that most probably the A's would have lost one way or another. Pruitt got tagged. Sam Moll got tagged. Richard Lovelady, Lucas Erceg, and Shintaro Fujinami got tagged too. The only player on the Athletics' mound avoiding allowing a hit to their opponents was Angel Felipe, which once again retired the three batters he faced without breaking a sweat.
It was a full-relief type of game for Oakland in which no pitcher removed more than six batters, pitched for longer than two innings, nor threw more than 52 balls in Shea Langeliers' direction.
Paxton, on the other hand, threw 93 pitches all by himself for the Sox on his way to winning Saturday's affair pitching six innings of wonderful ball in which he allowed two runs on six hits walking just one A's hitter and striking out three batters. Brandon Walter got into the game late, pitched a couple of frames, and got himself a save. Not bad for a random Saturday worth of tossing some baseballs, one would say.
The only good news for the A's, who were missing one of their best players in outfielder Esteury Ruiz after he entered the Injured List of late, was veteran Manny Piña getting his first hit--and homer, for that matter--of the season against the Sox on Saturday.
It could have been better (it was a solo shot), and it could have been prettier, and it could have been everything, but a hit is a hit, and a homer is a homer, and in a game that was lost pretty much from the get-go (Boston got a 3-0 lead after the first inning, and a 5-0 advantage through the second), well, it definitely wasn't bad.
Brent Rooker, Oakland's lone All-Star Game representative next week, also had himself a homer on Saturday cutting Boston's lead... well, from 9-1 to 9-2 in the sixth frame. Again, a hit's a hit and a homer's a homer, folks, and you take what you get offered.
Ryan Noda was the only other of your superheroes to get a run against Boston in the second game of the series. The A's will try to avoid getting swept on Sunday before a week-long break making room for the All-Star festivities in Seattle.
Nick Allen, who led off for Oakland, walked once but he undid that good with a strikeout for the bad. Langeliers struck out twice, the only member of the A's doing so with four other players (including Allen) striking out once. JJ Bleday was the only non-homering player on Oakland's side getting himself an RBI courtesy of a single in the eighth inning.
Bleday, Aledmys Diaz, and Cody Thomas all got two hits each on four trips to the plate, making it a smooth .500 for them on the BA front. That sounds good until you look at the season-long stats and find out Diaz is hitting .209 and Bleday isn't much better at a paltry .213. Ugh.
A's and Sox facing off for a third and final time on Sunday with an afternoon starting time and things kicking off nearly on parallel with the MLB Draft where the A's are in possession of the sixth-overall pick.
Oakland has named JP Sears (1-6, 4.09 ERA) as their starter for the finale with Boston making a late-but-in-time call for Tayler Scott (0-0, 7.71) to get things going on their mound. Let's avoid that sweep before getting the week off, boys.