Red Sox Game Day Connections: Game 57, Oakland Athletics

(l to r:) Boston Red Sox pitcher Lefty Grove, Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin, Philadelphia Athletics outfielder Wally Moses, Boston Red Sox first baseman Jimmie Foxx, and Boston Red Sox outfielder Doc Cramer. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Hall of Famer Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove never played a professional game in Oakland, California, let alone for the Oakland Athletics. However, he did play his best years as a member of the Athletics when they resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s also, arguably, the greatest pitcher to don the uniform exclusively for these two franchises. If you look at each team’s franchise statistics, you’ll see his name among the great Athletics and Red Sox, despite the fact he last threw a pitch 70 years ago and died 36 years ago.

Entering the 2011 season, the Red Sox and Athletics were both touted to have among the best pitching rotations in all of Major League Baseball. Entering today’s game, the Athletics are last in the American League West with a sub .500 record, and the Red Sox have lost four straight after climbing out of a 2-10 hole to start the season and sit in second place with a 30-25 record. As it’s only June, it’s way too early to sell off either team.

Oakland’s starter, Josh Outman, probably isn’t the second coming of Lefty Grove, but he has pitched well enough to give him the benefit of the doubt as he gets set for his first appearance against the Boston Red Sox. Clay Buchholz, the Sox starter, faces the Athletics for the first time since beating them for his first win of the 2011 season on April 20.

The Red Sox are coming off a four game losing streak. The Athletics are coming off a three game losing streak after reaching .500, where they’ve hovered most of the season. Something’s gotta give. Members of the Athletics that have previously faced Buchholz have hit .358 collectively in their careers against him. They also rank 12th in the A.L. with a .241 team average. By contrast, the Red Sox lead the A.L. with a .267 average.

Based on nothing scientific, and mostly the biased view of a Red Sox fan, I think there is a good chance that Clay Buchholz will find his inner Lefty Grove and turn the tide for the Red Sox.

Did you know? Lefty Grove made his first career start as a Philadelphia Athletic against the Boston Red Sox. His final start 17 years later as a member of the Red Sox was against the Philadelphia Athletics


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