Records Entering Series: BOS (16-2, 1st in AL East), OAK (9-10, 4th in AL West)
Boston just keeps on rolling. They’re now 16-2 and have won 7 in a row, averaging over 7 runs per game over that span. They’ve scored at least 6 runs in 11 of their 18 games this year. The pitching has been just as good, as the rotation owns a 1.98 ERA and the bullpen has come around from some early season struggles and brought their collective ERA down to 3.57.
Oakland has some nice pieces here and there, but likely lacks the overall talent to really compete this year.
Boston will certainly be looking to win this series by taking at least 2 out of 3, but with the way this team is playing right now, a sweep is far from out of the question.
Hitters to Watch
BOS: Mookie Betts – Mookie has been Boston’s hottest hitter, akin to Bogaerts earlier in this season. Since 4/12 (6 games), he’s amassed 2 doubles, 4 home runs, 7 RBI and 8 runs scored. He’s now hitting .391 on the year and is absolutely dominating from the leadoff spot, making the lives of the guys behind him so much easier by providing a consistent runner on base to drive in.
OAK: Jed Lowrie – Lowrie, a former Red Sox until 2011, is enjoying a breakout year so far for the A’s. He’s posted a .346 BA and a monstrous 1.009 OPS. He leads the AL in both home runs (6) and RBI (21) and is the only regular Oakland starter hitting over .300.
Pitchers to Watch
BOS: Drew Pomeranz – Pomeranz will get the ball in the series opener on Friday in his first start of the year, coming back after a lengthy rehab assignment following a mild strain in his forearm. He was very good in 2017, leading the team in wins (17) and posting a respectable 3.32 ERA. His stint in the minors over the last week and a half was just decent, as he allowed 4 runs in 9.2 IP. Most of those came off of a pair of home runs, though, and he limited batters to just 6 hits while collecting 6 K’s. Alex Cora and co. will be keeping a close eye on him to ensure that he both doesn’t aggravate his injury and also locates his pitches well and has his normal velocity back.
OAK: Sean Manaea – After a disappointing 2017, in what was supposed to be a “progression year,” Manaea has gotten off to a very good start this year. He has 3 quality starts out of 4 total, a 1.63 ERA and 20 K’s in 27.2 IP. He’s got a nice fastball, a good changeup, and a decent slider to boot. He likes to keep the ball low, which could suit the Sox well, but has held opponents to a .168 BA this year, so he could give Boston some trouble.
Matchup to Watch: Chris Sale vs. Oakland hitting.
Chris Sale enters the series with a 1.23 ERA and 31 K’s in 22 IP on the year. Throughout his career against Oakland, he carries a 2.60 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 62.1 IP. He’s held Oakland hitters to a .205 BA and .285 SLG. He hasn’t gotten great run support so far in 2018 (which is a little surprising, considering Boston has the highest scoring offense in the MLB), but will be looking to dominate again and pick up his 2nd win of the year in game 2 of the series. He’s up against the aforementioned Sean Manaea in that game, so it should be a good one.