Boston Red Sox wallop A's in series opener

Apr 1, 2024; Oakland, California, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas (36) hits a RBI
Apr 1, 2024; Oakland, California, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas (36) hits a RBI / Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

After securing their first win of the season on a walk-off walk on Sunday, the Oakland A's dropped the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, 9-0, on Monday.

Joe Boyle made his first start of the season for Oakland, and it didn't last long. The 6-foot-7 right-hander lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits, eight runs (seven earned), walked four, and struck out four. He was having trouble locating his breaking ball, and was behind in the count quite a bit, which led to the performance we saw on Monday. He threw 29 sliders, and only one was called a strike. Six were swung on and missed.

Boyle had started to struggle a bit during spring training once the calendar flipped to March, walking 15 in 13 innings ahead of the regular season after walking no batters in his first 5 1/3 innings in February. While Boyle certainly didn't have his best outing, the defense behind him also collected five erorrs on the night, and all five came in the brief time that Boyle was on the mound.

Over the weekend against the Cleveland Guardians, the A's defense hadn't been stellar, but they hadn't racked up errors quite as easily either. On the young season, Oakland has committed 13 errors in five games and has had at least one miscue in each contest.

In the first series, one thing that stood out was that the outfielders kept missing the cut-off man when throwing the ball back to the infield. Whether it was a single or a relay throw, it didn't matter. J.D. Davis and Nick Allen were running all around the infield to collect the errant throws. Those ones don't show up on the stat sheet, either.

After Monday's game A's manager Mark Kotsay had some thoughts on the team's early-season defense for reporters, "I wish I had an answer for the defense right now. I don't. They're going to have to get better. That's just all there is to it. These first five games, if you had told me that we were going to play as bad defensively as this, I would have said you were dead wrong. We'll see how they respond tomorrow."

Even with the terrible start to the night, Kyle Muller came on in relief and really saved the bullpen with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. He gave up one hit, walked two, and struck out six on 73 pitches. He retired the first eight batters he faced before walking Trevor Story with one out in the sixth, then allowing a double to Triston Casas. Muller intentionally walked Tyler O'Neill to load the bases for Masataka Yoshida, who grounded to second with one out. Zack Gelof bobbled the ball briefly, which may have broken up the double play chance, though the A's were able to record the out at second. Even without the bobble, the runner may have been safe. It was not ruled an error.

In two relief outings this year, Muller has worked a total of eight innings and allowed just one run on two hits and two walks. He has also struck out eight. During the offseason he worked on getting his fastball shape back and working more north/south instead of getting around the ball and going east/west.

Credit to the Red Sox, who came into town after splitting their series with the Seattle Mariners, and beat up on an A's team still trying to find their identity. Even with a decent 3-2 start, Boston already finds themselves two games behind the unbeaten New York Yankees in the standings in the AL East.

As hard as it may be to believe, the A's are actually off to a worst start than last season when they ended up going 50-112. A year ago they won their opener, and then the fifth game of the season and sat at 2-3 with a -17 run differential. This year they are 1-4 with a -27 differential, worst in baseball.

The good news is, it's still early and there is plenty of time to turn things around a little bit.

Jason Burke