It took more than five hours to complete on account of two lengthy rain delays, but the Red Sox were able to come away with a 6-2 win over the Royals on a stormy Wednesday night/early Thursday morning at Fenway Park.
With the victory, Boston reaches the halfway point of their season having improved to 50-31 on the year. They also extended their winning streak to six consecutive games while increasing their lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East to three full games.
Martin Perez made his 16th start of the season for the Sox on Wednesday (at 7:40 p.m. as opposed to 7:10 p.m. thanks to a 30-minute delay), facing off against Kansas City for the second time in as many weeks.
The left-hander stumbled out of the gate a bit by serving up a solo home run to Salvador Perez in the second inning, but then managed to settle in nicely from there.
Over 5 1/3 innings of work, Perez wound up surrendering just two runs — both of which were earned — on seven hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
In the top of the fifth, Perez received some help from his center fielder, as Enrique Hernandez made a fantastic sprawling catch on a Hanser Alberto fly ball to both prevent the Royals from scoring and end the inning since it came with two outs.
The only other run Perez gave up came in the top half of the sixth, when he yielded an RBI groundout to Carlos Santana, and his outing came to a close shortly after that.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (54 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler was ultimately hit with the no-decision in this one, though he did lower his ERA on the year to 4.04. His next start should come against the Angels in Anaheim next Monday.
In relief of Perez, Brandon Workman came on and escaped the sixth by inducing an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Hunter Dozier.
At that point, the skies opened up in the Fenway-area, the tarp came on the field, and another rain delay commenced, with this one lasting nearly two hours.
By the time the game resumed and a Red Sox pitcher took the mound again, it was nearly midnight. That long layoff did not seem to affect the Boston bullpen, though, as Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, Josh Taylor extended his consecutive scoreless appearance streak to 24 games with a perfect eighth inning, and Matt Barnes shut the door on the Royals in the ninth to preserve a 6-2 win for his side.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Royals left-hander Mike Minor, who they also saw last week in Kansas City.
Despite falling behind early on Wednesday, J.D. Martinez did not mess around in taking that lead back, as he belted a 420-foot three-run home run to deep center field off Minor to get his side on the board in the third inning.
Martinez’s 16th homer of the year had an exit velocity of more than 108 mph, and it also gave the Sox a 3-1 lead.
Fast forward to the fifth, and a leadoff single from Alex Verdugo proved to be the catalyst for another multi-run inning, with Xander Bogaerts plating him on an RBI base hit off the Green Monster and Hunter Renfroe driving in another run (Martinez) on a force out.
Renfroe’s productive night at the plate would not end there, however, as the right-handed hitting slugger came out of the in-game delay and cranked a 427-foot solo shot over everything in left field with one out in the eighth inning.
Capping off his month of June with a bang, Renfroe’s 12th big fly of the season (and fifth of the month) left his bat at 106.9 mph on a hanging slider from Royals reliever Anthony Swarzak.
The towering blast also gave the Red Sox a 6-2 lead over the Royals, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score, though the final out was technically recorded on Thursday morning.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
Next up: Bubic vs. Eovaldi
The Red Sox will wrap up their four-game series against the Royals while simultaneously opening up the second half of their season (Game No. 82) on Thursday afternoon.
Left-hander Kris Bubic is slated to get the ball for Kansas City, while Nathan Eovaldi will be doing the same for Boston. Also expect Connor Wong to get the start behind the plate.
First pitch Thursday (weather permitting) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Final game of the homestand in which the Red Sox are a perfect 6-0.
(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)