BOSTON -- Greetings from the Fens, where we begin with an inquiry that suspiciously looks like a trick question:
Who has more harder-hit balls this season, Oakland's Jed Lowrie, who last week was described by Houston pitcher Paul Clemens as "not an imposing guy" after Clemens threw at him three times, or David Ortiz, the Big Papi of legend and subject of a new movie from MLB Productions?
We'll spare you the suspense: The answer is Lowrie, the switch-hitting former Red Sox shortstop who brings a .423 on-base percentage into this weekend's series against the Red Sox. His WHAV -- percentage of at-bats ending with a hard-hit ball is .250, which ranks third in the major leagues, behind Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies (.277) and Jayson Werth of the Nationals (.260). The averages are compiled from a video review of every ball hit in a game by a game-tracking service.
Lowrie also drew 20 walks in April, his most-ever in a month.
A couple more tidbits about what former Sox players are doing for Oakland, which has made a cottage industry of employing ex-Sox talent:
• First baseman Brandon Moss comes in batting .484 (15 for 31) against the Red Sox, with 3 home runs, 11 RBIs, and 11 runs in 11 games against Boston. By contrast, utilityman Nick Punto has a .167 average (19 for 114) at Fenway, his lowest average in any ballpark still standing.
• Outfielder Josh Reddick started the season batting .098 (4 for 41) in his first 11 games, and was hearing speculation that he might be optioned to the minors. Since then, Reddick is batting .381 (16 for 42), with a .435 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage.
• Center fielder Coco Crisp hit his third home run of the season Wednesday and since last Aug. 21 has 15 home runs, tied with Moss for most in the AL since that date. Only Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins (17) has more. Crisp also has stolen seven bases without being caught.
The Athletics, as you have already heard, come in with the best record in the AL at 18-10 and at 12-4 also have the league's best road record. They've already had 11 games decided in a game's last at-bat, most in the majors, and have won six of them. They've won four games despite trailing after seven innings, the most in the majors and matching their total in 2013. The Red Sox, by contrast, are 1-12 in games in which they've trailed after seven innings; they were 11-48 in such games in 2013.
Some other items of some interest emanating from the Fens and beyond:
• Remember that embarrassing five-error game against the Yankees on April 24? Well, through the magic of the commissioner's office reviewing scorer's decisions, that has now become a four-error game. An error was taken away from rookie Jackie Bradley Jr., who initially was charged with a misplay allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to advance to second on a single. Ellsbury has now been credited with a double.
That error had been the only one charged this season to Bradley, whose 3.11 range factor in the early going is tied with Colby Rasmus of the Jays for best in the American League.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it has been nearly 80 years since the Red Sox lost both ends of a doubleheader at Fenway park by one run, after having a lead in each game. The last time that happened was Aug. 25, 1934, when they lost 3-2 and 8-7 to the White Sox. Yes, that's a bit arcane, we agree, but underscores what a lousy day it was.
• About the Ortiz movie: The Sox passed along a release announcing, "David Ortiz in the Moment," described as an original documentary from the entertainment network Epix. The film was produced by Relativity Sports, whose president, Fernando Cuza, is Ortiz's longtime agent, in conjunction with Major League Baseball Productions. It is scheduled to air on Epix on July 17 at 8 p.m.
• The umps reach out: Forget your frustration with the replay system for a moment, and consider assisting MLB umpires in performing some good works. The umps are offering more than 200 ticket packages, autographed sports memorabilia and one-of-a-kind VIP experiences during the 6th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction. The auction opened at 8 a.m. Friday at www.mlb.com/UmpsCare and closes at 10 p.m. on May 11.
Some of the items up for bid include a signed Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals game worn cleat, a Mariano Rivera signed baseball, a bat signed by 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, a baseball signed by 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout, opportunities to watch batting practice from the field at many MLB ballparks or have a meet and greet with a player; hotel stays with game tickets from the finest hotels in the country; opportunities to have lunch with a Major League Baseball umpire; and more than 50 suites or ticket blocks from Minor League Baseball clubs for fans to see some of baseball's rising stars up close.
There are signed jerseys, bats, baseballs and gloves from stars of yesterday and today , including Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Hamilton, Matt Harvey, Bryce Harper, Felix Hernandez, Matt Holliday, Ryan Howard, Tim Hudson, Clayton Kershaw, Tony LaRussa, Don Mattingly, Vin Scully, Alfonso Soriano, Joe Torre, Bob Uecker, Chase Utley, David Wright and so many more.
All proceeds from the Online Auction support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide Major League Baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop® experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children, and financial assistance for families in need. UMPS CARE Charities is the official charity of Major League Baseball umpires.
• And if you have a Sox jersey, this is Red Sox Jersey night, the Sox and Majestic encouraging you to wear the colors to the ballpark. And if you buy a new jersey, that would probably please them to no end. Just sayin'.