Coming off one of his worst starts in a Red Sox uniform last Sunday against the Yankees, David Price looked to rebound and get back on track against a team that struggles to score runs in the Kansas City Royals.
In what was his 18th start of the season on Saturday night, Price found himself struggling yet again. Only managing to pitch into the fifth inning, the lefty got pounced on for four runs on six hits, one walk, and three HBP.
Price did manage to tie his season-high in strikeouts with nine on the night, but that did not do him any favors against a Royals team that typically find themselves struggling at the plate.
The real kick in the gut, to me anyway, was the last frame Price appeared in the fifth. A half inning after his team stormed back from a 3-0 hole to take a one run lead, what does Price do? Gives up a leadoff single to Whit Merrifield, hits three of the next five batters he faces to set a new team record, gives up what was the tying run initially, and leaves the game with a pitch count of 102 (69 strikes) in the FIFTH inning. Talk about going deep into your start.
A reason for that high pitch count could be the fact that exactly one-third of them resulted in foul balls off the bats of Royals hitters. Regardless of that, these last two starts from Price have to have the Red Sox feeling a bit concerned. Struggling against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium is one thing, but putting up a performance like that against a 25-62 team the night after Chris Sale had his way with them? Not a great look, especially when you consider how he has been pitching since this video dropped following his start against the Angels on June 26th.
Anyway, topping out at 95.3 MPH with his two-seam fastball in the third inning this time around, the Tennessee native will look to regain the prominence he displayed from May 12th to June 26th in his next outing, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen combined for 5.1 no-hit innings en route to the series-clinching win. Heath Hembree picked up his fourth win of the season by getting out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth and tossing a scoreless sixth. And from the middle of the seventh on, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, and Hector Velazquez wrapped up a game that had somehow turned into a laugher for Boston.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could not get to Royals starter Brad Keller the way they got to Jason Hammel on Friday night. Instead, it took until the fifth inning for them to finally get on the board, and it all started with a two out rally.
Already trailing by three runs with two outs in the top half of the fifth, the top of the lineup, mainly Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi set the table for the middle part with JD Martinez due up next.
On a 1-2 fastball from Keller, the Red Sox DH ripped a line drive single to left, scoring Betts from second to put his team on the board while also advancing Benintendi to third.
Two batters later and the bases now loaded, Xander Bogaerts delivered with a bases-clearing 3 RBI double hit over the head of Alcides Escobar in center field. That put the Red Sox up by one momentarily as the Royals came back to knot things up at four in their half of the fifth.
In the seventh, the Red Sox tacked on another three runs, with the most important coming on a Mitch Moreland sac fly to score Andrew Benintendi from third for the go-ahead run.
Three batters after that happened, Christian Vazquez came through with what looked to be important insurance runs at the time, as he scored both JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts on a 2 RBI single.
In the eighth inning, Andrew Benintendi, who had walked in all four of his at bats prior to this one against Royals righty Kevin McCarthy, blasted his first home run since June 21st to put the Red Sox up 8-4. Ballgame over, or so I thought.
Instead of easing up on the gas pedal in the ninth, the Red Sox lineup decided to kick it up a notch by plating SEVEN runs. Highlighted by back-to-back RBI doubles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, this offensive outpouring all but put the lowly Royals out of their misery, and we got to see Drew Butera, a backup catcher for KC, pitch.
All and all, every member of the Red Sox lineup who had at least one at bat in last night’s contest, 11 total, drove in at least one run, which added up to 15 in nine innings.
Some notes from this win:
Andrew Benintendi did not record an official at bat until the eighth inning on Saturday. In total, his OPS shot up from .856 all the way up to .881 in one game.
JD Martinez, in case you lost count, is up to 74 RBI on the season now.
Combined, Betts, Benintendi, and Martinez went 8/13 with 4 RBI, 4 BB, and 4 K.
Exactly 90 games into the season now, the Red Sox are 61-29. Pretty decent.
Some injury news:
Joe Kelly had to depart with two outs in the eighth due to light-headedness.
Christian Vazquez fractured his right pinky while sliding into second base, so he’ll be placed on the 10-day disabled list today. Expect Blake Swihart to get more opportunities behind the plate backing up Sandy Leon.
On a more positive note, the Red Sox will go for the sweep this afternoon with Rick Porcello on the hill for the series finale. He’ll be matched up against Jakob Junis for Kansas City, who held Boston to two runs over six innings pitched in the only other time he has faced them back on May 1st. First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 2:15 PM ET. Last game before heading home.