Even after allowing three runs in the bottom of the first and facing the likes of Chris Sale, the Oakland Athletics still had a shot at their first sweep at Fenway Park since 1990 on Wednesday.
They did, that is, until Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate. The Aruban shortstop launched a three-run homer off of reliever Ryan Dull to make it a 6-2 game, and the Boston Red Sox held on for a 6-4 win to salvage the finale of the three game series, sending the A’s to Canada with an impressive series victory but not the elusive sweep.
Sale needed 102 pitches to make it through five innings against a patient Oakland offense, and while he did strike out nine, he walked four and allowed a two-run homer to Marcus Semien, who also took him deep during Sean Manaea’s no-hitter on April 21.
After Matt Barnes dispatched the A’s in the top of the sixth, Dull came in to relieve Trevor Cahill. Hanley Ramirez sent a single just out of Jed Lowrie’s reach, J.D. Martinez walked and Bogaerts launched a slider over the Green Monster.
Martinez was the one to provide the big early blow, a two-run shot off of Cahill, who came off the disabled list Wednesday morning. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi had singled to start the inning, and Betts scored on Ramirez’s groundout. Cahill settled in from there in his first start since going on the 10-day DL for an elbow impingement, allowing five hits and one walk.
Oakland (21-22) got late runs on a pair of solo homers. Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce took Heath Hembree deep in the seventh, and Matt Olson hit an opposite-field blast in the ninth off closer Craig Kimbrel. The trio of home run hitters combined for all five of the A’s hits, while Boston (29-14) got two hits apiece from Betts and Benintendi.
One night after his emotional homer, Stephen Piscotty went hitless with a pair of strikeouts and a pair of first-pitch fly outs, but he made one of the catches in the year, tumbling into the stands in foul territory down the right field line to end the sixth.
The A’s will play their next four games in Toronto without backup catcher Bruce Maxwell. Because of an indictment for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct in an incident last October — Maxwell was accused of pulling a gun on a food delivery person — he is ineligible to cross the border into Canada. It is not the legal trouble, per se, but rather specifically because he has yet to be sentenced (that will happen on June 4), and that the charges include a gun enhancement.
Maxwell will be placed on the restricted list for the series, and will re-join the team in Oakland. Catcher Josh Phegley will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Maxwell’s place on the active roster.