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AL West Leader Oakland taking on AL Best Boston

The Oakland Athletics have made the American League a tight race during the first half of the season. At this point of the season, with just two games left before the All Star break, the A’s are in first place in the AL West by one game over the Texas Rangers. Oakland has lost two straight but had won 6 of 8 prior to that.

This weekend the A’s are battling the Boston Red Sox in a matchup that many believe could be a prelude to the American League Championship series.

Boston currently has an overall record of 58-37 after defeating Oakland Friday night 4-2. The Red Sox lead the AL East by 4½ games over the Tampa Bay Ray and have the second best record in the majors.

The last time the A’s and Red Sox played earlier this month, the Red Sox got the better of the A’s winning 2 of 3 games at Fenway Park in Boston.

Tonight the A’s take on the Red Sox in the second game of the series. The Red Sox will send southpaw Jon Lester to the mound to face the A’s. Lester will try to help the Red Sox win their fifth straight game by silencing even more the already quiet bats in the Oakland lineup.

Prior to Friday loss, Oakland had won six straight games at home versus Boston. However, they will need to fire up a quiet lineup if they want to beat Lester who is 8-5 on the season with an ERA of 4.60.

Over their past four games played, the A’s have scored just six runs, while striking out 29 times and hitting a paltry .136. During those four games, both Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson are 1 for 13. The team is batting just .213 during the month of July, the worst in the majors.

Oakland pitcher A.J. Griffin starts on the mound against Boston. Griffin is 7-6 on the season with an ERA of 3.94. Last season, Griffin started twice at home against Boston and was 1-0 with an ERA of 2.08. However, earlier this season, he allowed nine runs in just four plus innings against Boston, losing 9-6.

Griffin will be facing a Boston lineup that is second in the majors in batting during July with an average of .299. The Red Sox this season are leading the majors in runs per game with an average of 5.2, while the A’s are averaging 4.5.

This series gives AL West leading Oakland a chance to see a possible foe during the playoffs, just as their series earlier in the week against Pittsburgh did.

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