OAKLAND -- It took four full innings before Boston's ongoing demolition of Oakland pitching commenced, as the Red Sox routed the A's, 16-2, and pulled within a game of the Blue Jays in the American League East on Friday night at the Coliseum.
Boston tied its season high in runs and has scored 56 in four games against the A's this season. Tied at 2-2 entering the top of the fifth, the Red Sox scored a combined 10 runs and sent 17 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings. Travis Shaw capped the surge with a towering three-run homer to right field in the sixth, making it 12-2.
Friday's win also provided a peek into Boston's future, as well it's sudden present. Rookie phenom Yoan Moncada made his Major League debut in the seventh inning, entering as a defensive replacement at third base. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then scored on a Shaw double. Shaw finished with five RBIs, becoming the only left-handed hitter in the Majors with five five-RBI games this season.
"It felt good to be out there," Moncada said. "My first game, it was good to get it out of the way. Even though I came in in the seventh inning, it just felt good to be out there. Tomorrow is a new day."
The Red Sox's offensive outburst overshadowed a briefly tenuous moment, when starting pitcher David Price allowed two runs in the fourth, including a Stephen Vogt RBI double, as the A's drew even. But David Ortiz answered with an RBI single in the fifth inning to retake the lead -- one of his three RBIs on the night -- and Boston strung together five straight two-out hits to create a comfortable lead.
A's starter Andrew Triggs was forced out of action after just one inning because of back tightness. The right-hander allowed one unearned run, yielding one hit and striking out one in his shortened outing. Right-hander Zach Neal replaced him to begin the second and was on the hook for five runs (four earned) in just 3 2/3 innings. Triggs doesn't expect to miss much time.
"When you get behind in counts and get guys on base and you do it multiple innings, they make you pay," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They're first in the league in everything, it seems like. You have to make quality pitches to them and keep guys off base."
Ortiz, who was honored prior to the game by the A's as he continues his retirement tour, now has 105 RBIs, trailing only Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion (107).
Price breezed through the opening three innings, striking out five without allowing a hit, before the A's sent six batters to the plate in the fourth. He settled down, and perhaps most importantly, delivered a shutdown inning in the fifth following Boston's rally. Price has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last four starts and is on a five-game winning streak, posting a 2.06 ERA over his last five outings.
"He was outstanding," Farrell said of Price. "He set the tone for us here tonight. He was strong; he had some good swing and miss with some fastballs. By setting the tone, he put up three zeros and allowed us to get on track offensively."
With a win and Toronto's 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday, the Red Sox not only sit one game behind the Blue Jays in the division, they hold a two-game lead in the AL Wild Card race.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Moncada makes his debut: Moncada, who was called up Friday, was not in the starting lineup, with manager John Farrell saying he wanted to "ease" Moncada in and start him on Saturday. That changed followed Boston's offensive outburst, and the rookie phenom wasted little time making an impact. His strong play at third base ended the seventh inning, and he walked in the top of the eighth and scored from first base on Shaw's RBI double to the right-center-field gap.
"It was a shock, a culture shock," Moncada said. "You see the big stadium, you're a little nervous before the game. The nerves were there. But it felt good to be out there. I'm looking forward to the future." More >
Shaw stands out: Farrell said the plan moving forward is to play Moncada at third base against right-handed pitchers, leaving Shaw, the incumbent at the hot corner, in an ambiguous situation. Shaw responded with his best offensive performance in weeks, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs. His sixth-inning homer and eighth-inning double both came against Wendelken on hard-hit balls to right field.
"He got a couple of pitches the middle of the plate," Farrell said. "I thought the most impressive at-bat was the base hit the other way against a left-hander, when they made a pitching change. That shows you he's staying in the middle of the field, staying inside the baseball." More >
Early errors: The A's committed two errors in the first three innings, resulting in two unearned runs that staked the Red Sox to an early lead. Shortstop Marcus Semien threw away Xander Bogaerts' routine ground ball with one out in the first, permitting Bogaerts to reach second and easily score on Ortiz's ensuing base hit. Then, in the third, right fielder Brett Eibner bobbled a single off the bat of Dustin Pedroia, who advanced to second on the play and moved to third on a flyout before scoring a run on Mookie Betts' sacrifice fly.
Bogaerts flashes the leather: Overshadowed by the offense was the defensive prowess of Bogaerts, who made a pair of strong plays in the sixth. Bogaerts robbed Jake Smolinski to open the inning, making an impressive over-the-shoulder catch ranging far into left field, and later went to his backhand to start an inning-ending double play. Bogaerts and Shaw also teamed up to take a hit away from Smolinski in the first after Shaw deflected a grounder directly to Bogaerts, who threw to first for a quirky 5-6-3 out. More >
"A game like that, you're always looking to some bright sides to it. It's a good at-bat. He looks like he's got a little bit of length to his bat, can hit some balls hard up the middle. And certainly when you can hit the ball to left-center field like that, it means you're letting the ball travel and you're keeping the bat in the zone for a little bit longer. He's had some good at-bats." -- Melvin, on infielder Joey Wendle's first Major League hit, a single in the eighth inning
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox:Rick Porcello looks to win his Major League-high 19th game on Saturday when the Red Sox face the A's at 9:05 p.m. ET at the Coliseum. Porcello (18-3, 3.26 ERA) has been very effective since the All-Star break, going 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA in nine starts, and he has thrown seven consecutive quality starts on the road. The right-hander hasn't pitched fewer than seven innings in a start since July 24 against the Twins.
A's: Right-hander Daniel Mengden will return from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday for a start against the Red Sox in the second of this three-game series at the Coliseum, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. PT. Mengden, who was 1-5 with a 5.73 ERA in nine starts for the A's following his first promotion earlier this season, turned in a 5-1 record and 2.10 ERA in his last six starts with Nashville.