BOSTON — Sean O’Sullivan already had pitched for four major league teams before the Red Sox called him up for the first time last week, so he’s no stranger to the bright lights of big league ballparks.
But when the 28-year-old right-hander took the mound Tuesday night for his first career appearance at Fenway Park — and his first start in a Red Sox uniform — he admitted to feeling some unusual pregame emotions.
“I’d been (to Fenway) before, but I hadn’t actually pitched here before,” O’Sullivan said. “So when I went out to warm up initially, I looked down, getting ready to fix my belt, and I saw ‘Red Sox’ across my chest. And I was like, ‘Man, this is pretty cool, man.’ How many people get to say they get to start a game for the Red Sox in Fenway? So, that was pretty surreal, and it was nice that I got to have my dad and my sister here and my wife and kids. So, definitely a moment that I’ll have memory banked.”
O’Sullivan also was able to bank a win in his first Fenway foray, allowing four runs over six innings as Boston steamrolled the Oakland A’s 13-5.
“It was nice,” said O’Sullivan, who hadn’t won a game at the major league level since May 17 of last year. “The guys went out there and put up a big lead for me, and it was my job just to keep getting them back in the dugout and keep the bats going.”
The A’s racked up 12 hits against the journeyman hurler, but O’Sullivan did not walk a batter, displaying the command that earned him a call-up in the first place. He also did not allow a run until Oakland plated four in the sixth inning, and by that point, Boston already had the game all but sewn up.
“As we anticipated, he came out and he threw strikes,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I think the biggest thing was he helped his cause by not walking anybody. They took some good swings against him, but he got right back in the strike zone and forced them to swing the bat. Started running out of gas there in the sixth inning — we gave him that inning Saturday in New York — but everything we could have hoped. Kept the game in check, and the offense did their job.”
It remains to be seen whether O’Sullivan will make a second start for the Red Sox or return to Triple-A Pawtucket, but he believes he’s shown he can be a viable option whenever the Sox are in need of an arm.
“I think so, yeah,” he said. “(Tuesday night) I pounded the zone, didn’t shy away from contact. Especially with it being 10 days since my last start, I thought I commanded the ball pretty well. … It’s always nice when you can go six innings, four runs and not worry about winning, so it was fun.”
Some additional notes from Tuesday night:
— David Ortiz was given the night off after stroking two doubles and driving in two runs in Monday’s series opener. It was just the third time this season the designated hitter had been left out of the starting lineup in an American League ballpark.
“As strong of a start as he’s had, personally I lose sight that he’s 40 years old,” Farrell said before the game. “There’s going to be periodic days for rest, and I thought (Tuesday night) was a matchup that maybe our right-handers had a better matchup. David is a good matchup against anyone, but picking spots, this is a day for David being down.”
Ortiz, who plans to retire at the end of this season, entered Tuesday ranked among the top three in Major League Baseball in home runs, RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.
“He’s fun to watch right now,” Farrell said.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his career-long hitting streak to 16 games with a fifth-inning single. He also made the best defensive play of the night when he gunned down A’s first baseman Billy Butler — who, admittedly, isn’t exactly a sprinter — at home plate to end the second inning.
Bradley, who went 2-for-4, has collected 23 hits during his current streak, raising his batting average from .222 to .310.
Tuesday night wasn’t all positive for Bradley, however, as his misplaying of a bouncing ball in center field (which was not ruled an error) allowed a run to score in the seventh inning. It was the second defensive miscue in as many games for a player who rarely makes any.
— For the second consecutive game, the only Red Sox starter without a hit was the catcher. Ryan Hanigan went 0-for-5 with one strikeout after Christian Vazquez turned in an 0-for-3 performance in Monday night’s 14-7 win.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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