OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics take a step up in class when they attempt to improve upon their four-game winning streak Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.
The A's will send staff ace Kendall Graveman (0-3, 9.87 ERA) in search of his first win of the season against Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who is expected to be activated off the disabled list in time to make his first start of 2018.
Oakland used a "Free Baseball" promotion to attract more fans to the ballpark, then thrilled them with a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox earlier this week. The A's scored at least eight runs in all three wins of the fan-friendly series.
Graveman got eight runs of support in his last start, but they weren't enough as he gave up five in the first four innings of a 10-8 loss at Seattle on Saturday.
The 27-year-old has allowed at least four runs in no more than five innings in each of his four starts.
Graveman held Boston to two runs in six innings without getting a decision in a 3-2 win last May when the A's took three of four from the Red Sox in Oakland. He's 0-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four games, including three starts, against Boston in his career, compiling a 1.46 ERA in two home starts.
This time around, Graveman will be seeing a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball over the first three weeks of the season.
Boston completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with an 8-2 thumping Thursday night, getting a strong pitching performance from Eduardo Rodriguez and Mookie Betts' sixth home run of the season.
In running their winning streak to seven games, the Red Sox dominated the Angels in the series, winning 10-1, 9-0 and 8-2.
Now it's off to Oakland, before they'll conclude a nine-game trip with three at Toronto.
Pomeranz began the season on the disabled list because of a flexor strain in his left forearm. Last year's 17-game winner made two injury-rehab starts in the minors earlier this month to stamp himself ready to face big-league hitters.
"I'm ready to go. I feel good," he proclaimed this week. "It was a very minor thing in the first place. I've felt good this whole time."
The 29-year-old went 10-10 in two seasons with the A's in 2014-15 before getting traded to the San Diego Padres, for whom he made the 2016 All-Star Game.
He's since faced the A's twice, both times last season as a starter for the Red Sox, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
The game features two of the hottest hitters in the majors.
Oakland's Jed Lowrie had five hits, including two homers, and seven RBIs in the three-game sweep of the White Sox. He enters the series tied with Betts and two others for the American League lead in home runs with six, while leading the league by himself in hits with 28 and RBIs with 21.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, rode seven hits, including two doubles and a homer, from newcomer J.D. Martinez in the last two games of their sweep in Los Angeles.