With the Red Sox's offense in a funk, Felix Doubront will come off the disabled list and start in place of the suspended Brandon Workman on Friday night at O.co Coliseum.
In their last 11 games, the Red Sox have scored more than two runs just twice. Despite the lack of firepower, Boston went 6-5 thanks to a 2.09 team ERA.
"I still go back to the number of opportunities we create, and we are creating those situations where there's been men in scoring position," Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Thursday's series opener against the A's. "It hasn't been cashed in."
Following its 4-2 loss Thursday night, Boston is hitting just .234 with runners in scoring position and .211 in such situations with two outs.
"To me, that's kind of a tell-tale sign that the lineup can be managed to get to a point where maybe the opposing pitcher can attack with a little bit more freedom," said Farrell. "That's what I keep looking at. I look at the approach taken by some guys, and I can't say across the board that we're expanding the strike zone or over-swinging the bat. It's been case by case, and yet we've left a number of guys on base."
After surrendering only two runs in three games to the Twins, the Red Sox hope Doubront can keep them on a roll.
Doubront, who has been sidelined since May 20 with a left shoulder strain, had a 2.63 ERA with five walks and 15 strikeouts in three rehab starts with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.
Doubront (2-4) appeared to get things going in mid-May, tossing 11 2/3 innings of two-run ball across two starts. But in his next start against Toronto, Doubront lasted just four innings, allowing five runs before exiting with an injury.
In three career starts against the Athletics, Doubront is 1-2 with an 8.56 ERA, but he has struck out 14.5 batters per nine innings.
Brad Mills, who was acquired Tuesday for $1 from the Brewers, will make his A's debut Friday night. The lefty has appeared in 15 Major League games with the Blue Jays and Angels, carrying a 3-3 record and 7.76 ERA. In 14 games with Triple-A Nashville, Mills was 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA while holding opponents to a .190 average.
Mills isn't the only member of the A's looking to make an impression.
With Farrell, the American League's manager in the All-Star Game, in town to face Oakland, Athletics manager Bob Melvin said he may consider vouching for his players to make the squad.
"Might not be a bad time, we'll see," said Melvin. "Usually it's a phone call that most managers make maybe a week or so from now, so it might be a little too soon, but if I run across him, who knows?"
In the fan vote, third baseman Josh Donaldson leads AL third basemen by more than 1 million votes, catcher Derek Norris is in third place amongst backstops and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes sits in fourth place, one spot shy of a starting bid.
Farrell, with help from votes cast by other managers, as well as coaches and players, makes the final decision on his All-Star Game pitching staff.
Scott Kazmir, who allowed just two runs in Thursday's series opener, Sonny Gray and Sean Doolittle are seemingly the favorites to represent A's hurlers.
Red Sox: Buchholz nearing big league return
Clay Buchholz (hyperextended left knee) threw six shutout innings in his second rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, and Farrell expects the right-hander's next outing to be in the Majors.
"His changeup feel and execution was much improved, and the shape to his overall pitches was consistent, particularly with the way he threw his changeup today," said Farrell. "His final start was one that I think we all felt was needed, but he went about it the right way and comes back with some momentum."
Buchholz's start will likely come next week, though Farrell is not yet sure what day.
"We've got a number of things that are kind of moving parts, and I think as we get through this weekend, those decisions will become more clear," Farrell said.
Buchholz is 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA in 10 starts this season.
A's: Reddick, O'Flaherty to continue rehabs with Triple-A Sacramento
Outfielder Josh Reddick (hyperextended right knee) doubled in his second rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday, going 1-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter. He also went 1-for-3 on Wednesday.
"He felt good running the bases," said Melvin.
Reddick will play in at least two more games with the River Cats, while rehabbing lefty Eric O'Flaherty is expected to stay with them for another week or two.
O'Flaherty needed just eight pitches -- all fastballs -- in a perfect inning of relief for Sacramento on Wednesday, marking his fourth rehab appearance and third with Sacramento.
• The Red Sox have not won a series of at least three games in Oakland since July 24-26, 2006, when they took two of three at the Coliseum.
• Doolittle is riding a 22 1/3-inning scoreless streak, a career high and the longest active streak in the American League.
• The A's lead the Majors with eight wins when trailing after seven innings.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.