By Alex Hall
Special to S.F. Examiner
OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics are only six games into their 2019 season, but they’re not wasting any time taking on a serious early test. The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are in town this week for a four-game series starting Monday.
The Red Sox won 108 games last year, easily the most in the majors, and lost only three postseason games en route to their fourth title in the last 15 seasons. Their lineup was one of the best in the business, and their rotation featured two former Cy Young winners and another perennial contender for the award. One of those pitching aces, left-hander David Price, will start against the A’s in Monday’s opener, making his season debut.
Having said all that, Boston got 2019 off to a shaky start in their opening series. Facing the same Seattle Mariners team that beat the A’s in Japan a couple weeks ago, the Red Sox lost three of their first four games and twice allowed double-digit scoring by the Mariners. Reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts hit a homer in that series but was otherwise quiet.
Meanwhile, the A’s got themselves back on track after their two losses in Tokyo. They won three out of four games against the Angels last weekend, bringing their early record back up to the .500 mark. Slugger Khris Davis already leads the AL with four dingers and is tied for the major league lead, and Matt Chapman (1.072 OPS) and Marcus Semien (1.071) are also hitting well out of the gate.
The biggest story around the A’s so far has been their starting rotation. Entering the year it was expected to be among the weaker areas of the roster, but in four starts against the Angels they combined to go 24 innings with just one run allowed on nine hits. Dating back to their games in Japan, the rotation compiled a streak of 25 scoreless innings that finally ended on Sunday.
Monday will bring a new face to the mound, though. Aaron Brooks will make not only his season debut, but his first major league start at all since 2015. He was acquired at the tail end of last season and made it into three games in a relief role, but this spring he found his way into the rotation and now he’ll jump right into the fire against one of the best lineups in the sport.