Less than 24 hours after wrapping up a frustrating series against the Tampa Bay Rays in winning fashion, the Red Sox welcomed the lowly Kansas City Royals to town for a three game set. Entering yesterday at 7-20, the Royals have been quite simply the worst team in the American League one month into the season. They sent veteran righty Jason Hammel to the mound for the opener, and Eduardo Rodriguez got the nod for the Red Sox.
If you were expecting a pitcher’s duel, that is about the polar opposite of what went down last night. The rainy weather for sure played a part, but neither pitcher put their best performance together on Monday. Hammel gave up eight earned runs in less than five innings pitched, and Rodriguez allowed five earned runs in just four innings pitched.
More on ERod, I was discouraged by two different things that happened in his start last night. The first being the fact he gave up three runs on two, hits, three walks, and a HBP in the first inning alone. And the second being the fact that he gave up another two runs in the top of the fourth after the lineup had just given him a three-run lead a half inning earlier. Like I said earlier, weather was definitely an issue in this game, and I’m sure that had a negative impact on Rodriguez’s night. I just don’t think it’s a great look when Hector Velazquez outpitches you in a relief role. Rodriguez would finish his outing with 88 pitches, 53 of which went for strikes. The lefty will look to rebound next time out when he faces off against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
Speaking of Velazquez, the big righty looked great in two innings of relief work last night. Working with a two and three run lead in each inning, the Mexico native surrendered just one hit while fanning three over that span. That made way for Carson Smith to start the seventh, and he struck out two while allowing one hit in a scoreless frame of work to lower his ERA from 5.87 to 5.19 and pick up his third hold of the season.
Last up out of the Red Sox bullpen was Brian Johnson. After giving up five runs to the Rays this past Saturday, the lefty looked much better in the two innings he pitched last night. He still allowed the Royals to score, but held them to one run on two hits while striking out two en route to picking up this historic win.
Offensively, Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts powered the Red Sox lineup. Together, they combined for as many RBIs (6) as the Royals had runs. Moreland got the scoring started in the second, when he launched his third home run of the season over the wall in right field.
An inning later, after Moreland drew a bases loaded walk to tack on another run, Xander Bogaerts went big fly for his third home run of the season.
That slam marks the sixth and final grand slam the Red Sox hit in April, the most any team has hit before May 1st since the 1996 Montreal Expos.
The Red Sox lineup would go on to score five more runs in this one, but none of them were as sexy as the first five. Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and Eduardo Nunez each drove in a run of their own, and Devers scored the 10th and final run of the night on a fielding error in the seventh.
Batters 2-5 did most of the damage for the Red Sox last night, as they accounted for 10 of the 13 hits the team had. Hanley Ramirez, JD Martinez, Mitch Moreland, and Xander Bogaerts went a combined 10/18 with seven RBIs and two walks. After that performance, the Red Sox trail only the New York Yankees for most runs scored in the majors.
Looking to clinch this series with a win later tonight, it will be Chris Sale getting the ball for the Red Sox. He’ll be facing off against Royals righty Jakob Junis, who has never faced the Red Sox in his young career. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.