Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/11/13
After a off tough lose against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics are headed back home to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. With a day off on Thursday, the A’s will face the Boston Red Sox on Friday for the last three-day series before the All-Star break. Let’s see how these two teams match up. Pitching for the Athletics will be righty Jarrod Parker. Having only pitched one game since falling down on the mound with hamstring tightness, Parker is going to have to bring his A-game come Friday. With a 4.04 ERA and a 6-6 record, Parker has definitely been shaky the first half of this MLB season and will probably not be able to match Sox pitcher John Lackey. Like Parker, Lackey has a 6-6 record but only a 2.80 ERA. Despite his disappointing record, Lackey is having one of the best seasons in his career. Since mid-May, he’s 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA. This will make it difficult for Parker to go pitch-for-pitch with Lackey, especially if he does not feel 100%. When we look at the A’s lineup, there are some old Red Sox in the Oakland dugout. First, there is center fielder Coco Crisp. Crisp played for the Sox from 2006 to 2008 and had a great three seasons while in Boston. However, now with the A’s, Crisp has really been able to shine. With a .425 SLG and an .349 on-base percentage this season, Crisp is ready to face his old teammates. The Red Sox have Jacoby Ellsbury in center field who overlapped with Crisp in Boston for two seasons. Ellsbury has been a staple in the Sox’s lineup since Crisp left in 2008 and is having on of the his best seasons yet. With a .306 average and 57 home runs so far this season, Ellsbury will definitely put some pressure on Parker when he is gets up to bat. Then there is Athletic Jed Lowrie, who played shortstop for the Red Sox from 2008 to 2011. After having a rocky, injury-filled few years with the Sox, Lowrie ended up with the A’s in 2013. As one of the veteran players in the A’s young clubhouse, Lowrie is finally having a great season. He is doing so well that most have forgotten about his  injury-prone history. With a .302 average this season, Lowrie’s success was able to get his name into the 2013 All-Star conversation. Even though he did not make the All-Star team, it does not diminish what an incredibly season Lowrie has been having thus far. For the Red Sox, shortstop is a touchy subject. First, there is Stephen Drew who has not been having a great season. Drew is only batting .233 and has now landed on the disable list with right hamstring tightness. Then there is Jose Iglesias who started out with the Red Sox by filling in at shortstop for Lowrie while he was injured in 2011. Since then, Iglesias has played here and there, but this season he has really earned his spot in the Red Sox lineup. Even though he should be at shortstop, he has been quite successful at third base and even better at the plate. Currently holding a .387 average and .488 SLG, Iglesias is living up to his projected potential. With Drew on the DL, Iglesias is finally playing the position he should have always played – shortstop – and he should be playing this position throughout the series against the Oakland Athletics. With the Athletics leading the AL West and the Red Sox leading the AL East, these next three days are going to the battle of the Coasts. However, the A’s will need to step up their defense in order to face off against the Red Sox’s powerhouse lineup and the Athletics will have to swing with precision against Lackey in this first game of the series. This should be quite an exciting series to watch as long as the A’s continue to step up to the plate and deliver like they have been this whole season.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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