Even on short rest, the Red Sox opened up the second half of their season by crushing the Royals, 15-1, at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon to finish off a four-game sweep of Kansas City while also wrapping up a perfect 7-0 homestand.
With the win, Boston improves to 20 games over .500 for the first time this season at 51-31. They also increase their lead over the Rays, who were idle on Thursday, for first place in the American League East to 3 1/2 games.
Kiké Hernández got the scoring started for the Sox right away, as he led things off against Royals starter Kris Bubic by clubbing his third leadoff home run in the last five days in the first inning.
J.D. Martinez followed suit in the fourth, as he led the inning off with another solo shot — his 17th homer of the season — to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
A two-out walk drawn by Hunter Renfroe and two-out single from Marwin Gonzalez brought Danny Santana to the plate with the chance to do some damage, and the switch-hitter did just that by mashing an opposite field three-run blast into the Red Sox bullpen. Santana’s first big fly since late May put his side up by five runs.
The Boston offense put up another four-spot in their half of the fifth against Royals reliever Ervin Santana, with Alex Verdugo, Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts loading the bases with one out, and Rafael Devers plating a pair on a two-run single to center field.
The bases were re-loaded when Gonzalez was issued another free pass, and Santana came through in that spot by placing a softly-hit, 108-foot RBI single to second base that came as a result of the Kansas City infield playing in a shift.
A balk with Connor Wong at the plate brought in another run, and the Red Sox found themselves in possession of a 9-0 lead.
Devers tacked on three more runs on one swing of the bat in the sixth. With two outs and runners on second and third, the left-handed slugger absolutely obliterated a 98 mph sinker from Josh Staumont and sent it flying 426 feet — with an exit velocity of 110.2 mph — over everything in right field for his 20th dinger of the season.
Michael Chavis, pinch-hitting for Hernández, drove in an additional run on a sacrifice fly in the seventh, while Gonzalez and Santana wrapped up productive days at the plate by collecting one more RBI each in the eighth.
All in all, the Red Sox lineup totaled 15 runs on 17 hits on Thursday. Devers went 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored, and five RBI to tie a season-high in that department. Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI, and one walk. And Santana — in his best game in a Sox uniform to date — went 3-for-5 with a double, one run scored, an a season-high five runs driven in.
Eovaldi tosses seven scoreless frames
While the Red Sox were getting stellar production out of their lineup on Thursday, they also got yet another impressive start from Nathan Eovaldi.
Making his 17th start of the season in this one, the right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings while scattering just five hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.
Four of the five hits Eovaldi allowed came within the first three innings. From the top of the fourth up until the middle of the seventh, the flame-throwing righty retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (63 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler picked up his team-leading ninth winning decision of the year while also lowering his ERA to 3.41. His next start should come against the Angels in Anaheim next Tuesday.
Andriese gives up shutout bid
In relief of Eovaldi, Matt Andriese came on the for the eighth inning, faced the minimum in the inning thanks to a double play, but was unable to keep the shutout going in the ninth when he served up an RBI double to Jarrod Dyson.
Still, Andriese did stay on until the end, and he saw the Sox’ 15-1 victory through to its completion.
Next up: Heading out West
The Red Sox will board a flight to San Francisco later Thursday afternoon and open up a three-game series against the Athletics in Oakland on Friday.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while right-hander Frankie Montas will be doing the same for Oakland.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 9:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Danny Santana: Boston Red Sox)