The Oakland Athletics dropped their fifth straight game, losing 9-8 to the Boston Red Sox in a wild 14-inning affair at Fenway Park. The A’s trailed 7-3 heading into the ninth but managed to scrape together four runs off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Oakland grabbed a lead late in the eleventh but surrendered it in the bottom of the inning and then lost on a JD Drew single that scored Carl Crawford in the 14th inning. Throw in two ejections and a timely error and it was a crazy, crazy game.
The A’s fell behind early as the Red Sox jumped on top 2-0 behind an Adrian Gonzalez home run and a JD Drew RBI single. Oakland climbed back to tie the game 2-2 on a Josh Willingham RBI single in the sixth, but Boston climbed right back on top with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Boston led 7-3 heading into the ninth and brought out Jonathan Papelbon to wrap things up in the non-save situation. That’s when the fireworks began. Mark Ellis singled to center to start the inning, bringing notoriously patient hitter Daric Barton to the plate. Barton worked a walk on a lengthy at-bat that included some fairly close pitches. Papelbon began growing frustrated as a couple pitches did not go his way. This fan thinks they were pretty clearly balls, but Papelbon (and probably some Red Sox fans) disagreed.
Papelbon then proceeded to strike out Landon Powell. Coco Crisp came up and hit a soft grounder towards Dustin Pedroia for what appeared to be an easy set up on the easy 4-6-3 double play to end the game. However, Pedroia made the basic mistake of pulling his glove up too soon and the ball shot through his legs. Ellis scored, Barton advanced to third and Coco was safe at first.
On the next at bat, Cliff Pennington worked the count himself with some close pitches going for balls. Finally, Pennington sliced a double down the left field line that scored Barton and advanced Crisp to third. Almost as soon as Pennington hit the ball down the line, Jason Varitek wheeled around and began arguing with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. While I’d imagine he was arguing balls and strikes, one has to imagine he slipped in some of the magic words because he was tossed in a matter of seconds.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia replaced Varitek and Conor Jackson then stepped to the plate. Jackson worked the count himself before hitting a sharp grounder down the third base line. Kevin Youkilis dove for the ball but it shot off his glove and into left field. The ball slowed down sufficiently to score both Coco Crisp and Cliff Pennington and tie the game at seven.
Ryan Sweeney was the next batter and Papelbon got a first pitch strike. Papelbon appeared to say something that caught Randazzo’s attention who said something back. Next thing you know, Papelbon was yelling at Randazzo (I believe saying something about that he had been talking to his catcher). Whatever was said, Papelbon found himself ejected as well. Bobby Jenks came in to complete the brand new pitcher-catcher battery. Lost in the hubbub of the ninth was Jenks getting two outs without giving up a run after putting men on first and third.
The game calmed down a bit from there. The A’s took an eleventh inning lead on a Ryan Sweeney sacrifice fly to left. This brought Andrew Bailey on in the bottom of the eleventh for his first save situation. He got two quick strikeouts to start the inning before giving up a double to Saltalamacchia. Jacoby Ellsbury followed that with a ground rule double and we were all tied up again.
Neither team could score for the next two innings as they both emptied out their benches and went deep into their bullpens for the second straight game. Finally, in the 14th inning the Red Sox sent everybody home. Carl Crawford hit a two-out double to left field off Guillermo Moscoso. Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked and JD Drew followed that up with a deep single to right center that brought home Crawford to end the game.
The A’s and Red Sox send out Brett Anderson and John Lackey in Sunday’s series conclusion. It’s safe to say both sides are hoping for their starting pitchers to go deep into the ball game. The series finale is scheduled for 10:35am pacific on CSN California.