Red Sox

Emotional homer for Piscotty helps A's beat Red Sox, 5-3

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Emotional homer for Piscotty helps A's beat Red Sox, 5-3

BOSTON -- With a hand on his heart and a quick glance to the sky, Stephen Piscotty made an emotional salute to his late mother and helped the Oakland Athletics win in his return to the lineup.

Hours after being reinstated from the bereavement list and flying cross-country to join the A's in Boston, Piscotty hit a towering home run out of Fenway Park in his first at-bat Tuesday night as Oakland beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3.

"It was pure joy. It's been an emotional week," said Piscotty, whose mother, Gretchen, died May 6 after a one-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. She was 55.

Piscotty had missed four games to be with his family as they grieved the loss and celebrated Gretchen's life. He slowly made his way around the bases, then after rounding third placed his right hand over his heart and patted it with a glance to the sky.

"Coming around third, I just immediately started thinking about my mom and kind of put my hand over my chest like she would do," Piscotty said.

It was a touching moment for anyone aware of what Piscotty and his family had been through.

"To hit a home run in his first at-bat like that, there's something in the air. Probably Gretchen," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It was like a walkoff. The guys just embraced him when he got in the dugout."

Melvin actually gave Piscotty the option to sit out Tuesday, when he got a ride to the airport around 3:45 a.m. in California for a flight to Boston. Piscotty, who said he still felt like he was on West Coast time, declined the option.

"He wanted to play. He's on little sleep, a lot of adrenaline," Melvin said. "I know he was really looking forward to that first at-bat. To be able to do what he did tells you a little something about him."

Piscotty drove an 0-and-2 pitch from Eduardo Rodriguez out to left in the second inning. Piscotty's third homer of the season was his only hit of the night and put the A's up 3-0. Matt Chapman and Mark Canha had two RBIs apiece for the A's, who took the first two games of the series against the struggling Red Sox.

Andrew Benintendi homered for Boston and Mitch Moreland finished with a pair of doubles for the Red Sox, who have struggled since their torrid start to the season.

Daniel Mengden (3-4) pitched six solid innings for Oakland, scattering eight hits and holding Boston to two runs - one earned - and struck out three. Blake Treinenfinished it off for his eighth save of the season and Oakland improved to 4-1 against Boston this season.

"We haven't been able to put them away," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "They're young and it seems like they're turning a corner. Whatever they're doing over there is pretty good."

Rodriguez (3-1) took his first loss of the season after getting roughed up in the first few innings. Oakland had six hits through the first three innings, starting with back-to-back singles by Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder to start the game. Both scored on a double by Chapman, who drove a pitch from Rodriguez over the head of Mookie Betts in right field.

Rodriguez was pulled after throwing 98 pitches in five innings.

"They were swinging a lot and getting a lot of foul balls," Rodriguez said. "I was getting a lot of like 0-2 counts and then going to 3-2. I need to work at putting guys out quicker than that."

Benintendi's solo homer in the fifth pulled Boston back within 3-2, but the A's tacked on a pair of runs in the eighth.

The game was scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m., but didn't get under way until 8:52 p.m. because of heavy rain and lightning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: To make room on the roster for Piscotty, Oakland optioned RHP Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville.

Red Sox: Placed RHP Carson Smith on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a dislocated pitching shoulder, which he injured during a tantrum Monday night. Smith was upset after Khris Davis led off the eighth inning with a home run to put Oakland up 6-4. ... The Red Sox also recalled LHP Bobby Poyner from Triple-A Pawtucket.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-1, 2.25 ERA) is expected to get the start after being reinstated from the 10-day disabled list with an impingement in his pitching elbow.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (3-1, 2.17) is coming off a no-decision despite tying a career high with 15 strikeouts while pitching nine innings Friday at Toronto.

Comparing Chris Sale to '04, '07, and '13 Red Sox aces

Comparing Chris Sale to '04, '07, and '13 Red Sox aces

For the next few days, we'll be reminiscing on 2004, 2007, and 2013 Red Sox champions at each position and seeing how they stack up against their 2018 counterparts. Today, we discuss the aces of the starting rotations. . .

Curt Schilling, 2004

Regular season: 21-6, 3.26 ERA, 203 SO

Playoffs: 3-1, 3.57 ERA

Year in summary: The highlight of Curt Schilling's 2004 season came in Game 6 of the ALCS, AKA the "Bloody Sock Game." While that game undoubtedly will live on forever in Red Sox history, Schilling's dominance throughout his first season in Boston shouldn't be overlooked. 

Josh Beckett, 2007

Regular season: 20-7, 3.27 ERA, 194 SO

Playoffs: 4-0, 1.20 ERA

Year in summary:  Josh Beckett enjoyed a stellar 2007 regular season, but his postseason performance was one for the ages. Beckett finished second in Cy Young award voting behind then-Indians ace CC Sabathia.

Jon Lester, 2013

Regular season: 15-8, 3.75 ERA, 177 SO

Playoffs: 4-1, 1.56 ERA

Year in summary: 2013 wasn't the best statistical season of Lester's Red Sox career, but it sure was the sweetest. That's because the left-hander turned back into his shutdown self in the postseason and was a key part of Boston bringing home its third World Series title in nine years.

Chris Sale, 2018

Regular season: 12-4, 2.00 ERA, 229 SO

Year in summary: Chris Sale (per usual) has enjoyed a dominant regular season, particularly in the first half. Shoulder inflammation limited the Red Sox southpaw in the second half, but the perennial Cy Young candidate finally looks ready to help the winningest team in Sox history win when it matters most.

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Playoff debates: Why Red Sox should choose Eovaldi over E-Rod in rotation

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Playoff debates: Why Red Sox should choose Eovaldi over E-Rod in rotation

With the playoffs approaching, Evan Drellich will look at various decisions the Red Sox are going to have to make on their postseason roster. We start today with: The rotation.

BOSTON — Nate Eovaldi may keep his spot in the rotation for the same reason the Red Sox move forward without a lefty specialist in the 'pen: the number of scary lefty bats the Sox can face in the first round are minimal.

The Yankees and A’s are righty heavy, and Eovaldi in particular would probably be preparing for a scenario to pitch on the road. The Sox have seen up close how the Yankees can just wait back and drive lefty pitches out to right field.

Since joining the Red Sox, Eovaldi leads the team in the fewest percentage of fly balls to become home runs, at 5.5 percent, regardless of lefty-righty match-ups. E-Rod is nearly double that, at 10.6 percent.

“One of the teams we know, we know really well,” Alex Cora said on Monday generally. “The other one, we don’t know honestly. So we’ll talk about it. But I think small sample size really doesn’t matter.”

Eovaldi’s final pitch Monday night against the Orioles was a backdoor cutter to Cedric Mullins, who went down looking. Mullins, a switch-hitter, was batting lefthanded. It was an excellent night overall for the right-handed and cutter-heavy Eovaldi in a 6-2 win, even though he was facing a terrible team. He had 10 strikeouts in five innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez following Eovaldi in relief on Monday was also a clear signal the Red Sox are looking at keeping Eovaldi in the Division Series rotation and taking E-Rod out.

“I really had everything working today,” Eovaldi said. “I was able to locate the fastball up. Had a really good feel for my curveball, my split today. So with those two pitches, being able to get them off my fastball and the cutter, I felt like it’s a good success tonight.”

Both historically and in 2018, Eovaldi has been better vs. right-handed batters, who carry a .631 OPS against him this season. Lefties (and switch-hitters) are his potential weakness, with a .751 OPS. The numbers in Eovaldi’s time in Boston and in his career are virtually identical, a roughly .100 point OPS gap.

Will that really matter in the Division Series?

The Yankees have Aaron Hicks and Neil Walker as switch-hitters. Hicks has an .837 OPS vs. righties, Walker a .693 OPS. 

The Yanks’ best threat purely from the left side, Didi Gregorious and his .864 OPS against righties, may be out for the season. Brett Gardner, meanwhile, has got a .704 OPS against righties.

“We don't know who we're going to play, but we understand the match-ups and where we can go,” Cora said when asked if Eovaldi is making a case to stay in the rotation. “He’s been great. He's a guy that, first of all, he's a workhorse. We can use him out of the bullpen, and then we can use him in the rotation. I love the fact that his last two outings, they made some adjustments, and he's actually pitching to what we wanted, up in the zone and down, so he's making it very interesting now.”

Matt Olson and Nick Martini of the A’s both have done well as lefties vs. righties this year, the former with an .828 OPS and the latter .824. Switch-hitter Jed Lowrie’s right there with them at .846.

So the A's might make the choice a little tougher than the Yankees. But the biggest bats on both teams — Khris Davis and Matt Chapman, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — are righty, and righties aren't the reason to remove Eovaldi.

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