Athletics vs Red Sox

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With severe thunderstorms in the forecast for Tuesday night in Boston, there’s a chance that Game 2 of the Red Sox’s series with the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park will have to be postponed. But if the rain holds off, the Red Sox will look to avenge Monday’s 6-5 loss by sending left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound. The lefty is coming off a solid performance in his last start when he tossed five shutout innings in a no-decision against the New York Yankees. Oakland has won three of four this season against Boston and will counter with right-hander Daniel Mengden, who gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings in a start against the Red Sox on April 22. Manager Alex Cora has tweaked Boston’s lineup a bit for Game 2. Mitch Moreland will get the start at first base and bat sixth, while Hanley Ramirez will shift over to designated hitter. Christian Vazquez will assume the catching duties for Rodriguez and hit ninth. Jackie Bradley Jr. once again will begin the game on the bench with J.D. Martinez getting the start in left field, Andrew Benintendi in center and Mookie Betts in right field.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Daniel Mengden gets the ball tonight and will try to continue the form he showed Wednesday against Houston. He’s opposed by lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been much better than his ERA would indicate. Through seven starts, Rodriguez has posted a 1.21 WHIP and 11.33 K/9. He can be susceptible to the walk and the long-ball though, so let’s hope our swinging A’s keep hitting.

Full lineups are posted below, and first pitch from Boston is at 4:10 PM.For the most part, this has been a phenomenal season for Porcello as he has had all of his pitches working and his command has been on another level. He was, of course, a total wildcard heading into the season but he’s been at the highest end of any reasonable expectations. That being said, he’s coming off his worst start of the year in which he allowed five runs to the Yankees in just 5 1⁄3 innings of work. Rough outings are going to happen here and there even for pitchers having great seasons, especially against great offenses like the one in New York. The key is to not let them snowball, so this will be an interesting start for the 2016 Cy Young winner. Porcello didn’t pitch when these two teams met in April.

I think most of us remember Manaea, yeah? The A’s young righty had a hell of an outing against the Red Sox back in April when he held them without a hit, and really that was the start of what’s been a more pedestrian run for the Red Sox lineup. He’s been outstanding pretty much all year with a 2.11 ERA, and though the peripherals aren’t that good his elite control gives him a relatively high floor and he induces some weak contact. His no-hitter against the Red Sox slowed down the offense for a while, so maybe this time around he’ll be the guy to get them to click again and get them looking like it’s early April. Manaea throws a low-90s fastball along with a changeup and a slider.As is the case pretty much every year, it’s been an inconsistent and frustrating season for Rodriguez. He has certainly shown what he’s capable of here and there, and the potential is there for him to dominate any lineup on any day. That said, he still has a 4.58 ERA on the season and allowed five runs in two of his last three starts. The good news is that his last outing may have been his most impressive of the year when he tossed five shutout innings against the Yankees while allowing just one hit. Hopefully that is the catalyst for a strong run for the southpaw. Rodriguez, like Porcello, missed Oakland when these two teams last met.

Mengden is hoping to make this his first full-season in the majors (he’s pitched partial seasons the last two years), and he’s pitching fairly well en route to that goal. His ERA is a little over 4.00 and a little better than average (105 ERA+), and while he doesn’t miss a lot of bats he also doesn’t put guys on for free and his flyball tendencies can limit hits. The question is how much playing in Oakland keeps his home run rate in check, and whether or not the Red Sox can take better advantage in Fenway. They didn’t take advantage in Oakland, scoring just one run off the righty over 6 1⁄3 innings when they saw him in April. Mengden throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a slider, a changeup and a curveball.

5/16: Chris Sale vs. Kendall Graveman, 7:10 PM ET

Wednesday is Sale Day, and the excitement of Sale Days are starting to pick up recently. His last two starts have been his best of the year, and perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), Sandy León has been behind the plate for both of them. His last outing looked a little rough until they adjusted their signs, and then the ace flipped the switch. He’s allowed four runs over 16 innings (2.25 ERA) over his last couple of starts with 27 strikeouts and just one walk. When he faced Oakland earlier this year he allowed three runs over seven innings with ten strikeouts and a walk.

Graveman has long been a solid, league-average pitcher for the A’s, but he has been far from that in 2018. The righty has made seven starts for Oakland this season and his ERA is way up at 7.60 despite a career-high strikeout rate. While he’s missing more bats, he’s also walking more batters and allowing a ton of home runs. Frankly, this is a matchup that the Red Sox have to take advantage of, particularly considering who they have on the mound. They did well in April, scoring six runs off Graveman over five innings. The righty throws a mid-90s two-seamer, a changeup, a cutter and a curveball.

Old Friends
Jed Lowrie is the one old friend on the Athletics roster, and the former utility player who was traded for Mark Melancon was also a trade target for Boston this winter. That obviously never came to fruition, and now the switch-hitter is mashing for Oakland. He got off to a hot start, but he’s never really slowed down as he’s still hitting for power and making consistently good contact for the month of May.

Notable Position Players
Khris Davis is one of the best right-handed power hitters in the game, though there is some swing-and-miss in his game. He has a BABIP of just .179 over his last 30 days, but he’s still a threat to leave the yard in any given plate appearance and expect the Red Sox pitchers to be very careful with him.

Matt Chapman started out the year as one of the best players in the game, but he’s fallen off lately with a lack of power, a high strikeout rate and little success when the ball is in play. He’ll turn it around eventually, and in the meantime he’s still one of the better defensive third basemen in the league.Matt Olson is another player who has fallen off a bit, but the young first baseman also has some big power to be aware of at all times.

Marcus Semien has never really lived up to his potential at shortstop but when he is making contact at the plate he is going to do some damage at the top of Oakland’s lineup.

Dustin Fowler is a former Yankees prospect who was severely injured last year during his major-league debut. He just joined the A’s roster and will be in the outfield this week.

Jonathan Lucroy has been enjoying something of a bounce-back year for the A’s with big-time on-base skills at the plate. If he keeps hitting like this and the A’s keep sliding you can expect him to be involved in some Red Sox trade rumors this summer.

Mark Canha has quietly been one of the better power hitters in the game over the last month or so hitting towards the bottom of this lineup.

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