By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief on-site at Fenway Park
BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox executed with some “small ball” and with the “long ball” today as they defeated the Oakland Athletics, 7-3, in the final game of a nine-game home stand. The Sox went 5-4 during the stint at Fenway Park but have won five of their last seven and eight of their last 12 games, overall.
Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland hit his ninth home run of the season in the 4th inning to break a 1-1 deadlock. Moreland went 1-for-3 with two RBI, a run scored and a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning. It was Moreland’s second HR in as many games as he leads the club in that category.
Boston centerfielder Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a key sacrifice bunt in the 5th inning which set-up a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly, scoring second baseman Tzu-Wei Lin who had led-off the inning with a double.
“We needed him to get the guy over,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “Then Mookie (Betts) did a good job of getting the ball in the air and scoring the run. We did a good job with Mitch (Moreland, who hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to ut Boston on the scoreboard in the 2nd inning).
“That’s how it starts. You do the little things. Little-by-little and good things are going to happen,” said Cora.
Tzu-Wei went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, his first since last September 26th against Baltimore.
Sox catcher Christian Vazquez homered in the 8th inning to provide some security, as Boston led 7-1 at that point. In the 9th inning, however, Boston reliever Tyler Thornburg allowed two earned runs on three hits before retiring Oakland centerfielder Ramon Laureano on a ground ball to short to end the game.
Hector Velazquez started for Boston but only pitched two innings before giving way to Marcus Walden who went 3.0 IP while allowing only one hit and striking out three A’s. Walden (4-0) was credited with the win.
On the play of Walden, Cora said, “He’s been great. He’s been outstanding. When he got called-up, he pitched well, then we had to make a move and he stayed positive. He’s been outstanding in different roles.
“He’s got good stuff, first of all. Good velocity, good movement and a good slider. He’s gaining confidence. You keep growing and you feel better about yourself.”
Athletics’ starter Mike Fiers (2-3) took the loss after pitching five innings and allowing five hits, three earned runs and a homer. He struck out three batters.
Oakland has lost a season-high six games in a row, the club’s longest losing streak since August 28-September 5, 2017. Oakland is 4-11 on the road this season.
NOTES: The Red Sox jet off to Chicago to face the White Sox in a four-game weekend series. LHP David Price (1-2, 3.60 ERA) is scheduled to go Thursday with LHP Chris Sale (0-5, 6.30 ERA) on Friday, both 8:10pm EDT starts. On Saturday, Boston plans to pitch another southpaw in Eduardo Rodriguez (2-2, 6.16 ERA) while RHP Rick Porcello (2-3, 5.52 ERA)is slated for Sunday. … After the trip to the South Side of the Windy City, Boston heads to Baltimore for a three-game set against the Orioles (May 6-8). … Mookie Betts scored his 500th run last night but didn’t make it 501 today.