Like any team, the Oakland Athletics have to endure the peaks and valleys that come with a 162-game season. And right now, they’re down in a valley.
After scoring two runs in the second inning to take an early lead against the Boston Red Sox, the A’s simply couldn’t keep pace with the lively bats of Beantown, highlighted by a five-run fifth inning that included a grand slam from Mike Napoli off of Oakland starter A.J. Griffin that knocked the young right-hander out of the game.
It was undoubtedly the toughest outing of Griffin’s young career, as he recorded career-highs in earned runs (seven) and hits (eight), and while it was bound to happen sooner or later, it came at a bad time for the A’s, who have now lost four games in a row.
Jed Lowrie walked to lead off the second and moved to third on a double from Josh Donaldson. With Josh Reddick at the plate, Boston starter Felix Doubront that scored Lowrie and moved Donaldson to third. Reddick then hit a single to right to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning after David Ortiz doubled to lead off the inning and came home on Napoli’s double to right field.
Griffin got through the third with no issue but found trouble again in the fourth when he hit Napoli and gave up a double Daniel Nava. Will Middlebrooks then smacked a slider over the middle of the plate over the Green Monster to give Boston a 4-2 lead. The A’s had a chance to answer in the fifth when Chris Young brought them within a run on a sacrifice fly, and Brandon Moss drew a two-out walk to load the bases. However, Jed Lowrie couldn’t connect for the payoff, flying out to center field to end the inning with the A’s trailing 4-3.
That score didn’t hold up for long as Napoli blasted his fourth home run of the year to make it 8-3, and the Sox added one more on a double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia to make it 9-3.
It was another instance of Oakland being unable to get the big hit when they needed it, and they left five baserunners on board Monday night. Although they added three runs in the eighth on doubles from Reddick and Donaldson, the deficit proved to be too much to overcome as reliever Junichi Tazawa was able to induce both Eric Sogard and Coco Crisp to fly out to end the inning, and former Athletic Andrew Bailey closed things out for Boston in the ninth to hand Oakland a 9-6 loss.
The A’s have now been outscored by opponents outside the division 46-18 this season. The four-game losing streak is their longest since May of 2012, and it was their first loss to Boston since before their previous eight matchups, all wins for Oakland. While the A’s 12-8 record is good for second place in the AL West, six of those wins are against the Houston Astros, and they’ll be hungry for a win when Bartolo Colon takes the hill against Alfredo Aceves tomorrow at 3:35 PST.