A.J. Pierzynski Making Presence Felt; Other Notes From Red Sox’s Loss

A.J. PierzynskiBOSTON — Getting back to .500 isn’t easy.

The Red Sox once again failed to even their season record Sunday. The Sox fell to the Oakland Athletics 3-2 in 10 innings, pushing Boston’s record to 15-17.

The Red Sox have had eight chances to return to .500 since opening the year 2-2, yet the feat has been elusive. They’ll look to get back in the win column against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, but Sunday’s loss stings a bit given that Boston had plenty of missed opportunities.

Let’s go over some notes from Sunday’s series finale against the A’s.

— A’s manager Bob Melvin called for a challenge after the game’s first pitch. Coco Crisp was called out on a bang-bang play at first base, and Melvin wanted the umpires to take another look, after which the initial call was upheld.

The play actually marked the second first-pitch challenge of the Red Sox’s season. The other came April 18, and Sunday’s starter, John Lackey, also was on the mound for that game.

— Sunday’s game featured another review in the third inning. Josh Donaldson was gunned down at the plate, and the umpires took another look to make sure catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn’t illegally block the plate. The initial call was upheld.

— Lackey gave the Red Sox a chance to win and finished with a no-decision. The right-hander gave up two earned runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked three while tossing 107 pitches (70 strikes).

— Sonny Gray was solid for the A’s. He allowed just two earned runs on six hits over six innings while striking out three and walking two.

Gray, like Lackey, received a no-decision, as he surrendered a game-tying home run to Pierzynski in the seventh inning before departing.

— Pierzynski’s home run is just the latest instance of him looking more and more comfortable of late.

The catcher, who finished the game 2-for-4, is hitting .371 (13-for-35) with two homers, two doubles and nine RBIs over his last 10 games.

“He’s been swinging the bat well,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s in the middle of our offense. When we’re able to put up some runs on the board, A.J. seemingly is in there somewhere. And that (home run) came at a big time today.”

Pierzynski also continues to dispel the notion that he’s a bad guy to have around.

“He’s really stepped up as a leader in the clubhouse,” Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “He’s a veteran player, he’s been around, he’s seen all sides of the game. It’s good to have him here.”

— The Red Sox went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

— The Red Sox attempted a safety squeeze with one out in the seventh inning. However, Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t put the bunt in a good enough spot for Xander Bogaerts to score from third base.

— The difference in the game was Yoenis Cespedes’ swinging bunt with the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th inning.

Middlebrooks singled and took second base on an error to begin the bottom of the 10th inning. Bradley failed to get down a sacrifice bunt, though, and Middlebrooks subsequently was thrown out while trying to take third base on a ground ball to the right side.

— The Red Sox are 1-2 in extra-inning games and 3-8 in one-run games. They are 4-5 in games decided in the last at-bat.

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