Andrew Cashner Gets Taken Deep Three Times as Red Sox Fall to Lowly Royals

After snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Red Sox were unable to gain any momentum from that win, as they dropped the middle game of this three-game set by a final score of 6-2 to fall back to 60-56 on the season.

Making his fifth start for Boston and 22nd of the season as a whole was Andrew Cashner, who came into the week having only faced off against divisional opponents since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles last month.

Working into the sixth inning of this one, the right-hander surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those Royals runs came across on one swing of the bat in the top half of the fourth, when with two outs and a runner at first, Cashner served up a two-run mammoth shot to Jorge Soler on a first-pitch, 94 MPH four-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate.

The Texas native had been cruising up until that point, retiring nine of the first 11 hitters he faced before walking Hunter Dozier on seven pitches to set up Soler in that spot.

A Cheslor Cuthbert ground out Cashner out of the fourth, but the home run ball came back to bite him an inning later, when Ryan O’Hearn led things off in the fifth by crushing a solo homer to right off a 3-2, 85 MPH changeup at the top of the zone to make it a 3-1 game.

In the sixth, a Whit Merrifield single, followed by a Cashner wild pitch and Alex Gordon groundout to short, set up Dozier in a prime run-scoring spot with a runner at third, and he capitalized with an RBI single to right. 4-1.

With Soler due up next to hit for Kansas City, Cashner remained in the game and proceeded to give up another two-run shot to the Royals slugger, this one coming off a 1-0, 87 MPH slider down the middle of the plate.

That put the lowly Royals up 6-1, and a single off the bat of Cuthbert would signal the end of the line for Cashner.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (58 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 46% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 96.2 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 10-7 while raising his ERA on the year up to 4.68, Cashner’s first five starts with the Red Sox have been far from memorable.

Since the beginning of play of on July 16th, Cashner has given up six home runs in 28 2/3 innings pitched. Compare that to just the 11 homers he gave up in 96 1/3 innings pitched as an Oriole, and it becomes clear that something isn’t quite right.

Regardless, Cashner’s next start should come against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

In relief of Cashner, Josh Taylor entered the top of the sixth with one runner on and two outs to get, and he got both of those outs with the help of a 4-6-3 double play started by Michael Chavis off a ground ball from O’Hearn.

Taylor also worked his way around a two-out walk in a scoreless seventh before making way for Marcus Walden in the eighth.

There, Walden received some great help from a sprawling Chavis on a pop fly off the bat of Dozier while also walking one in another scoreless frame of relief.

And in the ninth, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez came on for his 11th appearance out of the Red Sox ‘pen, and he punched out the side on 20 pitches to keep the deficit at four runs.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Royals right-hander Jakob Junius, who only had one prior start at Fenway Park under his belt before Tuesday.

Kicking off the scoring in the bottom half of the third, Andrew Benintendi got his side on the board first by knocking in Rafael Devers from second on a two-out bloop of an RBI single to right.

Brock Holt managed to move Benintendi up to third on a single of his own, but Christian Vazquez could not come through, as he flew out to center to strand Benintendi and Holt at the corners.

An inning later, after falling behind by a run in the top half of the fourth, Devers had the chance to take that lead back with two outs and runners at first and second following a Betts walk.

Instead, the 23-year-old flew out to center on the first pitch he saw from Junis, thus extinguishing another threat.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with reliever Richard Lovelady in for Kansas City and the Red Sox trailing by five runs, and J.D. Martinez broke up a string of 10 straight Boston hitters being retired by lacing a leadoff ground-rule double down the right field line.

Neither Benintendi nor Holt were able to do anything with that, but Vazquez cut the deficit down to four runs with a line-drive RBI single to left-center.

That made it a 6-2 contest in favor of Kansas City, and that would go on to be Tuesday’s final score after Vazquez was stranded at second and Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Betts were retired in order by Ian Kennedy in the ninth.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left eight men on base as a team.

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

So, the Red Sox are 1-9 in their last 10 games and now stand 6 1/2 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

They still have the chance to take this series from the Royals on Wednesday, but you have to beat inferior teams at home. Playing .500 baseball at Fenway Park is simply not a sustainable model of success.

With that, it will be left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston in the series finale, while right-hander Glenn Sparkman will do the same for Kansas City.

Rodriguez took the loss in his last time out against the New York Yankees this past Friday, allowing four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings of work to mark his worst start in terms of runs given up since June 24th.

In his career against the Royals, the 26-year-old owns a lifetime 5.46 ERA and .285 batting average against over six starts and 31 1/3 innings pitched. That includes an outing back on June 4th at Kauffman Stadium, where he held the opposition to two runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win.

Sparkman, meanwhile, has yielded 14 earned runs over his last two starts and 9 2/3 innings to raise his ERA on the season up to 5.58.

The 27-year-old also opposed Rodriguez in that June 4th tilt, and he too put together a solid performance where he allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings of work.

Sparkman has never pitched at Fenway Park.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez Both in Red Sox Lineup for Second Game Against Royals

After one was a late scratch and the other was an early departure in the opener of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, both J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts are in the Red Sox’ lineup for the middle game on Tuesday.

Martinez was initially slated to start at designated hitter and bat cleanup on Monday, but was later scratched due to back soreness.

Betts, meanwhile, was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and runs scored before being removed in the eighth inning on Monday after taking a foul ball off his left shin in the bottom half of the seventh.

The 26-year-old was able to stay in to draw his second walk and eventually come in to score his second run, but could not remain in the game defensively.

Later ruled with a left shin contusion, Betts told reporters postgame Monday that everything is perfectly normal and he would be good to go for Tuesday.

That much turned out to be true, as Betts will be leading off against Jakob Junis and the Royals while Martinez will bat third with Xander Bogaerts presumably getting a day off.

In their careers against Kansas City, Betts owns a lifetime .358/.409/.657 slash line to go along with 10 home runs and 22 RBI over 32 games played, while Martinez owns a lifetime .302/.362/.527 slash line to go along with 12 home runs and 38 RBI over 74 games played.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Andrew Cashner gets the ball for the Red Sox.

Chris Sale Tosses Second Immaculate Inning of Season in Complete Game Shutout as Red Sox Top Royals for Third Straight Win

After opening up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals with a commanding 8-3 win on Tuesday, the Red Sox continued their recent run of success at Kauffman Stadium with another dominating performance in an 8-0 shutout victory Wednesday.

Making his 13th start of the season and 300th for his big league career for Boston was Chris Sale, fresh off an underwhelming four-run, 10-strikeout outing against the Yankees to close his month of May.

This time around though, the left-hander got his June off to a rocking start, as he completely shut the door on the Royals with nine scoreless innings Wednesday, scattering just three hits and zero walks to go along with 12 strikeouts on the night.

Right from the jump, Sale appeared to be locked in. It was a warm, humid night in KC, so perhaps that played into his stellar command of the strike zone, which we’ll touch on a little later.

Never facing more than four hitters in an inning, Sale did receive some assistance from his defense along the way, with Xander Bogaerts making a fantastic cross-body throw to get the speedy Adalberto Mondesi out at first in the first,…

….Sandy Leon ending the third by picking Whit Merrifield off at first as he was retreating towards the bag after reaching on a two-out single,…(right video, wrong caption)

…and Rafael Devers making a fine play over at third to rob Mondesi of yet another infield single in the fourth inning.

Ultimately retiring the last 15 hitters he faced beginning in the bottom half of the sixth, the real highlight showcasing just how dominant Sale was in this one came two innings later.

With the 6-7-8 portion of Kansas City’s lineup due up, the Florida native needed nine pitches, all of which were strikes, to complete his eighth frame of work, marking his second immaculate inning of the season already on June 5th, less than a month after his first against the Orioleson May 8th.

From there, Sale sat down Billy Hamilton, Terrance Gore, and Mondesi in order, and that wrapped up his first complete game shutout of the season and first complete game since last May.

Finishing with a relatively efficient final pitch count of 102 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 34% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 29 times and got six whiffs on with Sandy Leon behind the plate.

Finally able to notch that elusive second win while loweing his ERA below four for the first time this season at 3.84, Sale will go for win number three in his next time out against the Texas Rangers sometime next week.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Royals right-hander Jakob Junis, someone many on the team had only seen once before Wednesday.

Following a contest where they were held in check early on the night before, it was the opposite for Boston in this one, with Rafael Devers driving in his side’s first run on a first inning one-out RBI groundout to plate Mookie Betts from third for the quick 1-0 lead.

Two batters later, the red-hot Brock Holt extended his hitting streak to seven games with yet another RBI base knock, this one driving in Devers from third to make it a 2-0 game beofre the Royals had even taken their first at-bats.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Devers collected his second RBI in what would turn out to be a productive evening on a one-out, run-scoring double allowing Andrew Benintendi, who led the inning off with a two-bagger himself, to come in from second. 3-0.

After Xander Bogaerts drew a five-pitch walk, Brock Holt reached first on an infield single, and Michael Chavis fanned for the second out of the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate for the second time with the chance to blow this one open, and he did just that by unloading on a 1-1 slider from Junis and ripping a bases-clearing, three-run opposite field double to left field, scoring Devers, Bogaerts, and Holt to give the Red Sox a brand new six-run advantage.

And in the seventh, Devers led things off by swinging at the first pitch he saw from Jorge Lopez, and he deposited a 95 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate and sent it 425 feet out into the center field seats. His ninth home run of the season.

Three of the next four Red Sox hitters reached base to once again fill the bases for Sandy Leon, who took responsibility for his team’s final tally of the night by plating Holt from third on an RBI sacrifice fly hit deep enough to center field. That put Boston ahead 8-0, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score shortly thereafter.

Some notes from this win:

Since the start of May, Chris Sale is averaging 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Chris Sale’s immaculate inning was the 96th in baseball’s history.

Chris Sale is the first pitcher since Lefty Grove in 1928 to throw an immaculate inning twice in the same season.

From MLB Stats:

Brock Holt’s last seven games since returning from the injured list: 11-for-25 with five RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this three-game set with an early start Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Ryan Weber is expected to get the ball for Boston, while lefty Danny Duffy will do the same for Kansas City. Boston’s 12th-ranked prospect Mike Shawaryn, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket last Thursday, is also expected to make his big league debut in a relief role.

Since joining the Sox’ starting rotation on May 23rd, we have seen the good and the bad from Weber. The 28-year-old shined in his first start against the Blue Jays, but struggled mightily against the Indians in his last time out May 29th.

Duffy, meanwhile, currently sits at 3-2 with a 4.05 ERA through seven starts for the Royals this season, but he has surrendered 10 runs, seven of which were earned, over his last two outings.

In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Duffy has posted a lifetime 6.75 ERA over 37.1 total innings pitched. He is 0-5 in those starts.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:15 PM EDT. Red Sox looking to cap off the road trip with a three-game sweep.