Red Sox hope to keep momentum going against improving A’s

With wins in six of their past seven games, the Boston Red Sox are in a good place.

Taking a second three-game series from the New York Yankees makes the recent proceedings feel even better.

The Red Sox, who sit just 4 1/2 games behind their archrivals for the top American League wild-card spot, will look to keep the momentum rolling at home in a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics, beginning on Tuesday.

“Understanding where we are in the standings, we have to just keep getting greedy,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.

Cora’s club was, indeed, greedy in the Bronx on Sunday as Kutter Crawford threw six scoreless innings and got the support of three solo home runs, two by Rafael Devers — who was named a third-time All-Star prior to the game — and one by Ceddanne Rafaela.

Devers’ two homers give him 16 in his career at Yankee Stadium. His first broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning.

“You just always want to be on the top step when (Devers is) in the box because you never know what can happen,” Crawford said. “That last at-bat (on Sunday night), that ball was in the other batter’s box, and he was able to take it 420 to right-center. He’s really talented, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Devers has logged multiple hits in seven of his last 11 games and now looks to continue the recent surge as Brayan Bello (8-5, 5.19 ERA) takes the mound in Boston’s return home.

Bello last pitched on Wednesday when he struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball at Miami.

Tuesday will mark Bello’s third career start against Oakland. He has allowed 10 runs on 10 hits over nine innings in the previous two outings.

Despite dropping two of three in Baltimore over the weekend, the Athletics scored 19 runs in a Saturday win and kept the series close throughout. The losses were by 3-2 and 6-3 scores.

The A’s come to Boston with wins in four of six.

“I think (playing the close games) continues to show our young team that everybody in this league is really good, but the margins aren’t that far off. We’re really close,” A’s outfielder Brent Rooker said. “When we play well, we can play with anybody in the league, and I think we proved that to ourselves this week.”

Oakland will send 22-year-old Joey Estes (3-3, 4.39) to the mound to face Boston for the first time in his career following a complete-game gem in his start last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Estes threw all nine innings on just 92 pitches, the fewest required by an A’s pitcher in a complete game since 2005. He was also the first Oakland rookie to toss a shutout since 2009.

“He’s showing everybody what he’s capable of,” catcher Shea Langeliers said. “The sky’s the limit. We all love catching him. … He fills up the strike zone and is aggressive. He’s not afraid of anybody.”

Estes has made 10 starts since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas in May.

Prior to Saturday, Oakland pitching had gone six straight games without allowing a home run. The A’s then allowed four total over the final two games of the set with Baltimore.

–Field Level Media