BOSTON — Brandon Moss looked at two fastballs for a 1-1 count before swatting John Lackey’s third fastball to center field for an RBI single and a 1-0 Oakland lead in the third inning.
Moss, one of the American League leaders in RBI, is grateful … to the Boston Red Sox.
“I learned from them,” Moss said. “It’s part of who I am.”
Moss, 30, came up through the Red Sox system, including two seasons in Portland, as did two other Oakland players, Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick. That made three former Sea Dogs in the Athletics lineup Sunday, compared to four in the Boston lineup: Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Moss, Lowrie and Reddick were all traded by the Red Sox, in deals that were meant to immediately help Boston.
“Not every prospect pans out and not every prospect can stay,” said Moss, who was included in the 2008 three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and Jason Bay to Boston. Moss and pitcher Craig Hansen went to Pittsburgh.
“I take pride in the fact that the Red Sox and Pirates valued me enough to put me in the Jason Bay trade.”
But what if Boston held onto Moss?
“If I had stayed here, I don’t know if I would have found the career that I have.” Moss said. “When I was here, I was a role player. And that’s fine when you’re on a team like that.”
Not everyone is like a Pedroia or Bogaerts, who move up to the majors and stay – both Middlebrooks and Bradley have been up and down.
“Not many guys can come in and produce right off the bat,” Lowrie said.
Lowrie had that chance. A year after his 2007 Sea Dogs season, Lowrie found himself starting at shortstop for the Red Sox in the playoffs. Then he was the opening-day starter in 2009.
But Lowrie could not stay healthy, playing only 175 games from 2009-2011. Before the 2012 season, Lowrie was traded to Houston in a deal that sent reliever Mark Melancon to Boston.
Lowrie, 30, played one season in Houston (only 97 games because of injuries) before being traded to Oakland. He stayed off the disabled list last year and batted .290 with 45 doubles in 154 games.
“I was happy with the way the year went,” Lowrie said casually before Sunday’s game.
It was an important year to prove himself. And 2014 is vital, too, since Lowrie will be a free agent after the season.
“Just staying focused on the day-to-day of the season,” Lowrie said, “trying to help the team win.”
He did just that on Sunday.
Lowrie, batting .279, hit his 10th double with the bases empty and two outs in the 10th inning. He eventually scored the winning run.
Oakland has been winning and leads the American League West. The A’s remain a marvel for being a consistent contender despite one of the lowest payrolls – $83 million, which is a $20 million bump from last year, but still ranks 25th among 30 teams.
Lowrie is the fifth-highest paid player on the A’s at $5.25 million. Moss makes $4.1 million, and Reddick $2.7 million.
Reddick, 27, looked like a steal for the A’s when they acquired him before the 2012 season for reliever Andrew Bailey. Reddick had played parts of the 2007 through 2009 seasons in Portland.
After being traded to the A’s, Reddick hit 32 home runs and won a Gold Glove for his play in right field.
But last year a wrist injury, sustained when he crashed into the outfield wall, limited him to 114 games. He batted .226 and hit 12 home runs.
The injury “took my playing time and my talent out of the picture,” Reddick said. “I just want to get back to playing like I was in 2012 and not be a forgotten hero.”
Reddick began this season hitting .098 with no home runs in his first 12 games. Since, he’s batting .280 (16-57) with a home run.
“He seems to be getting better swings on a daily basis,” Oakland Manager Bob Melvin said.
Reddick had a tough series in Boston, going 0 for 10. In his final at-bat Sunday – a ground-ball double play – Reddick twisted his ankle coming out of the batter’s box. He left the game.
Moss, who was playing first base, moved to right field. He also has played left this season. He’s batting .260 with four home runs and 22 RBI, second highest on the team and seventh-best in the American League.
“I haven’t gone on a tear,” Moss said. “I’ve been putt-putting along, trying to battle until that hot streak comes.”
While the numbers look OK, Moss knows when he is in a groove. He learned that while playing in Portland. He batted .268 with 16 home runs in 2005, but was still raw.
“I really wanted to go to Triple-A. But I had a lot I needed to work on,” Moss said. “I had to work my at-bats and see pitches. The Red Sox had a plan for me. They really want you to be a better ballplayer.”
Moss has good memories, good lessons and a 2007 World Series ring for his time with the Red Sox.
“I am thankful for the time I had here,” he said. “But not every prospect is going to end up (with the team that drafted him).”
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: