Game 90: Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (July 7, 2018)

A dogfight with the Royals that turned into a blowout...who would have thought? Even though he melted into a puddle at Yankee Stadium last weekend, David Price had been very, very good overall this season so I and I'm sure most Red Sox fans expected him to have no problem with the Royals. Boy, were we wrong. We had one of the nicest summer days I can ever remember in terms of weather, so it was spent outside doing yard work and playing with the kids. Once the game started, I was tired enough to just want to sit on the couch and watch it. It wasn't until the middle innings, though, before I was truly relaxed with what was happening on the field.

As I alluded to, Price just didn't have it in this one. He looked good in the first inning, but after that he seemed very tentative, nibbling around the plate and hanging far too many pitches. The Royals made him pay, first when Lucas Duda hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second and then when a series of hits punctuated by Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez made it 3-0 by the end of the third. The Red Sox had threatened in each inning by getting runners into scoring position, but kept stranding them. It started to feel like it was going to be one of those games until the top of the fifth when the Sox finally broke through. After two at bats where he failed to move runners over, JD Martinez came through with an RBI single to drive in Mookie Betts (who had a great game). Xander Bogaerts then doubled with the bases loaded to clear them and put Boston ahead 4-3. Of course, as they usually have done the last few years, they gave it right back the next inning when Price hit Duda with the bases loaded to walk in a run and tie the game. Luckily, that was the closest KC got the rest of the night. In the seventh, the Sox went up for good when Mitch Moreland drove in Andrew Benintendi with a sacrifice fly. The bottom of the lineup finally got in on the act when Christian Vazquez' single drove in two. In the eighth, Andrew Benintendi hit his 14th homer of the season which made it 8-4. At this point, I figured it would be a quick ninth and the game would be over, but the Sox had other plans scoring seven more runs! Jackie Bradley drove in Rafael Devers on a fielder's choice which was followed by a Mookie double to drive in two more. Benintendi's double brought Mookie in and even Blake Swihart, pinch hitting for JD, drove in a run with a double of his own. At this point, the Royals bullpen was depleted so they brought in backup catcher Drew Butera to pitch. He walked Brock Holt and Devers both with the bases loaded to bring in runs and gave up  a hard hit RBI single to Sandy Leon before finally getting Bradley out on a sharp liner to second base.

Price did strike out nine and only walked one, but he didn't look sharp at all and only made it through 4.2 innings while giving up those four runs on six hits. It wasn't his worst outing, but it certainly wasn't what I expected against such a bad team like Kansas City. The bullpen held down the fort admirably, didn't give up any hits or runs, and only walked one. At the plate, Mookie was a monster with a 4-6 night, scoring two runs and driving in one to raise his average to .343. JD, Moreland, and Xander each scored two runs as well, while Benintendi was an on-base machine going 2-2 with four walks and scoring four runs. It was more than enough to excuse his baserunning blunder in the first that rubbed out the Sox first scoring chance.

The win was the Sox fifth in a row and kept them two games ahead of the Yankees in the division. Rick Porcello will be on the mound for the series finale so the Sox are set up nicely for sweep to end the road trip before heading home for their final home stand before the All Star break.