The A’s acquired Brad Mills, tonight’s starting pitcher, for a dollar in a trade with the Brewers, so of course they beat the Red Sox in Mills’ first major league appearance since 2012.
It was a 4-3 final score in a game that lasted nearly three and a half hours. It was definitely a grinder, with plenty of walks, men left on base, and great defensive plays keeping the scoreboard from changing.
In the end, the A’s won it on a rally in the eighth inning that was ignited by back-to-back hit-by-pitches, courtesy of Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller. Miller hit both Kyle Blanks and Alberto Callaspo in the lower leg area, putting the winning run on second base for free. Coco Crisp made him pay by serving a single to left, scoring Blanks for the eventual game winning run.
Each team was gifted their first runs by the other team as results of botched double plays. In the first, Jed Lowrie beat out the throw back to first on a potential double play grounder. After Yoenis Cespedes walked, Josh Donaldson crushed a three-run homer. The A’s returned the favor in the next half inning. Nick Punto’s flip to second on a potential inning-ending double play was too low, and the Red Sox loaded the bases on the error. The next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., singled to center and plated two runs.
Mills started out well, striking out four of his first six batters, including David Ortiz on a big, slow curveball. But he was lucky to leave the game allowing just three runs. He allowed four hits and walked four in four innings, and if it weren’t for a spectacular diving catch by Craig Gentry in the second and an inning-ending double play in the third with the bases loaded, he would have given up a lot more.
— Mills finished the night with 94 pitches, which is exceptional value for the A’s. Since they acquired him for a dollar, they essentially paid about a cent per pitch.
— It seemed like another disastrous outing was awaiting Jim Johnson at the Coliseum after he allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. But he struck out the next two batters and escaped a bases-loaded jam, lowering his ERA to 5.97.
— Ryan Cook has been struggling a bit since returning from injury, but was excellent in two innings of relief, striking out three batters. The A’s bullpen was fabulous in general tonight – yes, that includes Johnson – as the Red Sox were held scoreless after Mills exited after four innings. In fact, the combination of Cook, Fernando Abad, and closer Sean Doolittle did not allow a baserunner in the final four innings.
— Anyone still doubting Doolittle’s ability be the closer, do yourself a favor and watch the ninth inning. Or just read these stats: 50:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 23.1 scoreless inning streak.
— And the A’s are rolling yet again. This is their fourth straight win, and they lead the majors with a 46-28 record.