BOSTON -- A few quick hits from Fenway Park, where the Red Sox get set to play three against the AL-best Oakland Athletics, five former Red Sox make their return to Fenway with the Athletics and "Red Sox Jersey Day" calls for all fans to wear their favorite jerseys to Friday night's game:
• Manager John Farrell confirmed Friday that catcher A.J. Pierzynski's bunt in the eighth inning of Thursday's game two against the Rays was a decision that he made.
With Xander Bogaerts on second and no outs in a 5-5 game, Pierzynski moved Bogaerts over to third on a bunt in order for Will Middlebrooks to drive him in. However, Middlebrooks struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, the third time on the night the Red Sox failed to score after putting a runner on third with less than two outs.
Despite their continued struggles with runners in scoring position (58-for-260, a .223 average), Farrell said that he doesn't expect to lean on utilizing a small-ball offense to manufacture runs.
"I don't want to go away from what the strength of this team is," Farrell said. "We still possess some extra base threat in the bottom-third [and] don't want to take that strength away from guys."
Farrell added, "When at home, if we're looking to play for a tie, we'll execute as we did [Thursday night]."
• After closer Koji Uehara told reporters Thursday night that he always struggles giving up the long ball in April and May, Farrell offered his take on the difference in Uehara from the first two months of last season to the end of the year.
"To pinpoint any one thing, there's nothing that stands out," Farrell said. "I think every pitcher, the more repetition they get inside a given season there's going to be consistency to execution. ... When he's struggled it's been with right-handers where the split hasn't gotten to its intended spot.
"When he got the 12 to 15 appearances under his belt last year and ultimately shifted into the closer's role he was in more midseason form and was extremely efficient in a high-leverage and visible role."
Uehara served up a go-ahead solo home run to Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar in the ninth inning of Thursday night's game just five days after giving up a home run to the Blue Jays Jose Bautista in Toronto on Saturday. Farrell said that he expects Uehara to continue to excel in the closer's role moving forward.
"There's not one thing he's doing right now that suggests he's that much different."
• With Daniel Nava off to a .333/.400/.524 start in six games with Triple-A Pawtucket since being optioned April 23, Farrell offered an assessment on the 31-year-old's time in the minors.
"He's back to an approach that we saw here last year," Farrell said. "The disappointment in going down has been short-lived or it hasn't filtered into his work in-between the lines and he's swinging the bat well."
Nava has one home run and three RBIs while playing at least one game in each outfield spot.
With Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr. holding down right and center field respectively and Jonny Gomes and Grady Sizemore splitting duties in left, Farrell said any potential return for Nava at this point would be predicated on an injury to one of Boston's regulars.
• Several familiar faces will be returning to Fenway this weekend as members of the Athletics. Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss are all in the Athletics starting lineup Friday night, while utility infielder Nick Punto will be on the bench as an option for A's manager Bob Melvin. Here's the entire Athletics lineup:
1. Coco Crisp (CF)
2. Jed Lowrie (SS)
3. Josh Donaldson (3B)
4. Brandon Moss (1B)
5. Yoenis Cespedes (LF)
6. Alberto Callaspo (DH)
7. Josh Reddick (RF)
8. John Jaso (C)
9. Eric Sogard (2B)
SP: Dan Straily (RHP)
And here's the Red Sox lineup:
1. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
2. Shane Victorino (RF) 3. David Ortiz (DH)
4. Mike Napoli (1B)
5. Grady Sizemore (LF)
6. Xander Bogaerts (SS)
7. A.J. Pierzynski (C)
8. Will Middlebrooks (3B)
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)
SP: Clay Buchholz (RHP)