BOSTON — The Red Sox rebounded from a devastating doubleheader sweep Thursday to defeat the American League’s best team — record-wise, at least — Friday at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox, who dropped two games to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday to fall to three games below .500 at 13-16, downed the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Friday. The A’s fell to 18-11.
It was a nice win for the Red Sox, especially given their inability to produce in key spots Thursday. Boston doesn’t have much time to savor the victory, though, as the Sox and A’s will battle again Saturday afternoon.
Here are some need-to-knows from Friday’s clash.
— Clay Buchholz showed improvement in his last start in Toronto on Saturday. He carried that momentum in Friday’s outing and lasted into the seventh inning while earning his second win of 2014.
Buchholz gave up just one earned run on three hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five while throwing 110 pitches and featured perhaps his best cutter of the season.
— Buchholz’s outing marked Boston’s 20th quality start of the season. That’s the second-most in the American League behind the A’s, who have received 21 such starts.
Red Sox starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of their last 10 games dating back to April 22. They’ve posted a 3.29 ERA in that span.
— Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked before the game about his team’s struggles with runners in scoring position. Boston left 10 men on base while going 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position Friday, but the offense finally generated some key hits.
“I guess it’s like the weather — wait, it’ll change, hopefully,” Farrell said of the offense coming alive.
— A.J. Pierzynski put the Red Sox ahead 1-0 with an RBI single in the second inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. then knocked in Pierzynski from first base with a double into the left-center field gap — an area of the field Bradley has begun to pepper of late.
The 37-year-old Pierzynski certainly looked winded upon sliding into home.
“We had the oxygen tank waiting for him once he got in the dugout,” Farrell joked. “I don’t know how often we’re going to see A.J. score from first, but thankfully he did tonight.”
“I’m feeling good. I’m still trying to make adjustments every day (and) trying to get better,” Pedroia said. “I was pretty excited to hit a home run. It’s been a while. I had to make a lot of adjustments last year with my thumb (injury). I’m still trying to get back to swinging hard like I normally do.”
The umpires reviewed Pedroia’s grand slam to make sure there wasn’t fan interference. They upheld the call approximately one minute, five seconds later.
— Farrell wouldn’t go as far to say that his team has been pressing with men on base. But certainly, a weight was lifted when Pedroia’s grand slam sailed into the first row of Monster seats.
“Pedey gets his 100th home run in kind of grand fashion and yeah, I think just a little bit of relief given that we were able to get a couple of runs driven in in a bases-loaded situation,” Farrell said.
— Andrew Miller, Edward Mujica and Craig Breslow nailed down the victory. Miller, in particular, has begun to throw the ball well after some early season struggles.