The Boston Red Sox sit atop the American League East with three weeks left in the regular season but don’t have enough breathing room to absorb any sort of losing streak. The Red Sox will try not to let one loss turn into two when they host the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday.
Boston watched its bats go silent on Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays that ended a four-game winning streak and dropped to 4-2 on its nine-game homestand. “We have to bear down these next couple of weeks and look to win this division and get in the postseason and go from there,” Red Sox right-hander and reigning Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, who suffered his 17th loss of the season on Sunday, told reporters. The Athletics are in last place in the AL West but are thriving in the spoiler role and swept a four-game series from the West-leading Houston Astros over the weekend while pounding out a total of 41 runs. That red-hot Oakland lineup will takes its swings on Tuesday against the Red Sox’s Eduardo Rodriguez, who opposes Athletics fellow left-hander Sean Manaea.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NBCSN California (Oakland), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Sean Manaea (10-9, 4.33 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (4-5, 4.33)
Manaea surrendered three or fewer runs in each of his last four outings and is coming off the best of the bunch after holding the Los Angeles Angels scoreless over six innings in a win on Wednesday. The Indiana native fanned six against the Angels after failing to notch more than three strikeouts in any of his previous six outings. Manaea started against Boston on May 20 at home and earned a win while giving three runs - two earned - over five innings.
Rodriguez is still looking for his first win since May 26 but pitched well against Toronto last Tuesday, when he surrendered two runs and six hits in six innings without factoring in the decision. The 24-year-old Venezuelan struck out eight and walked one against the Blue Jays but yielded a home run for the fourth straight start. Rodriguez’s longest outing of the season came at Oakland on May 21, when he allowed three runs in eight innings to earn the victory.
1. Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez (bruised knee) sat out Sunday but could return on Tuesday.
2. Oakland rookie 1B Matt Olson is 5-for-10 with two home runs, five runs scored and four RBIs in his last three games.
3. Boston RHP Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth Sunday and is up to 112 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 60 innings.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Athletics 3