Game 89: Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (July 6, 2018)

The long road trip continued with the first game of a series in Kansas City against the lowly Royals. Coming off a sweep of the Nationals and a much needed day off, the Red Sox were in prime position to feast on a bad team and pick up some wins (and hopefully some breathing room in the standings). I only worked on Thursday and Friday this week, but I was still exhausted after being so busy during my mini-vacation. It was a good night to relax and watch the game and with the Sox beating up on the Royals, it was pretty entertaining, too.

With Chris Sale squaring off against Jason Hammel, it didn't seem like a fair fight from the very first pitch...and it wasn't. Mookie Betts, as he's done so often this season, got the Sox on the scoreboard right away when he launched his 100th career home run into the left field seats in the top of the first. Later in the inning, Brock Holt continued his torrid hitting when he drove in JD Martinez and Steve Pearce with an RBI single. Before continuing on, I want to point out what a great acquisition Pearce has been. He was brought in as a backup for Mitch Moreland and to add some depth on the bench, but he's been pressed into more regular use with Moreland's back flaring up. All he's done is play solid defense while getting on base just about every game. What looked like purely a cheap depth pickup has turned out to be a valuable member of the team, at least thus far in his Red Sox tenure. Back to the first inning and speaking of guys who have been swinging a hot bat, Sandy Leon continued his scorching play at the plate and kept it going when he drove Xander Bogaerts in with a single. After one inning it was 4-0 Boston and they never looked back. JD hit his league leading 27th home run in the second, this one of the two run variety, which was followed shortly by Xander hitting his own two run shot (his 14th) and just like that the Sox had doubled their lead. Kansas City finally got on the board in the bottom of the second when Alcides Escobar lined a single to left to bring in a run. The Royals wouldn't score again until the seventh when Adalberto Mondesi drove in a run on a fielder's choice. Boston added more runs in the eighth when Jackie Bradley (another guy who has been hot with the bat lately) doubled to drive in Eduardo Nunez. Mike Moustakas homered in the bottom of the eighth to drive in two more, but it was far too little too late for the Royals. Pearce knocked in the final run of the night for the Sox when he doubled to push Blake Swihart across. Whit Merrifield drove in a run in the bottom of the ninth for KC but the final score of 10-5 showed that the game wasn't even as close as it suggested. 

Chris Sale had another dominating night and in the process picked up his 100th career win. Yes, it was against one of the worst teams in all of baseball, but still if it was so easy to strike twelve guys out and only walk one, why isn't everyone doing it? This game also finally gave us the long awaited Red Sox debut of Tyler Thornburg (so he does exist!). He pitched the seventh inning and gave up a run and a hit, but at least he finally threw a pitch for the Sox. Hopefully he can shake the rust off and be an effective arm out of the bullpen because with the way Travis Shaw has been hitting in Milwaukee the last two seasons, we definitely lost on this trade so far. Every single Red Sox starter had at least a hit in this one and several had multi-hit games. Birthday boy Andrew Benintendi went 2-4, JD went 2-5, Steve Pearce went 3-5, and Brock Holt went 2-5 (and is hitting .297 on the season). Again, I know the Sox were playing a terrible team, but these are the games that good teams need to win so that they can be in good shape when they go up against other elite teams like the Yankees and Astros. 

With this victory, the Red Sox became the first team in MLB to reach 60 wins this season. Combined with the Yankees loss, the Sox are now even in the loss column with New York and two games ahead in the standings. Boston is 8-2 in their last ten games and riding a four game winning streak. Given how well they're playing and how bad KC is, I fully expect a series sweep or at the very least taking two of three. David Price will be on the mound for the second game and needs to show all of Red Sox Nation that even though the Royals are a bad team, he can bounce back after his disaster in the Bronx. I know I'll be watching him closely to see how he does. However, if the Red Sox continue to mash like they have been lately, I could probably pitch and win for them!