Xander Bogaerts reaches career milestone as Red Sox rack up 20 hits in 13-3 win over Royals

The Red Sox secured a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. After getting shut out on Saturday, Boston broke out for 20 hits in a 13-3 win over Kansas City to close out the weekend at Fenway Park.

Matched up against Kris Bubic to kick off Sunday’s series finale, the Sox got off to a quick start offensively. On the heels of back-to-back singles from Tommy Pham and Rafael Devers to lead off the first inning, Xander Bogaerts followed by ripping a game-tying double off the Green Monster to knot the score at 1-1.

An inning later, Enrique Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and immediately advanced to second base on a line-drive single off the bat of Yu Chang. Both runners moved up an additional 90 feet on a successful sacrifice bunt laid down by Reese McGuire. Pham then plated Hernandez from third on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Boston began to pull away in the third on a pair of sacrifice flies from Rob Refsnyder and Christian Arroyo. Hernandez and Chang each drew two-out walks before McGuire scored Hernandez on a groundball single through the right side of the infield.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead going into the fourth. To that point, Nick Pivetta had already allowed two runs — both of which came within the first two innings.

Pivetta, making his 30th start of the season for Boston, managed to keep the Royals off the board in the third and fourth before serving up a solo shot to the dangerous Salvador Perez with one out in the fifth. The right-hander ended his day by retiring two of the final three batters he faced.

So, over five innings of work in total, Pivetta surrendered three earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts on 97 pitches (66 strikes). The 29-year-old was able to pick up his 10th win of the season, though his ERA did rise to 4.35.

Shortly after Pivetta had recorded the final out in the top of the fifth, the Red Sox lineup got back to work in the bottom half. Arroyo, McGuire, and Pham each reached to fill the bases with two outs for Devers. Devers, in turn, greeted new Royals reliever Anthony Misiewicz by swatting a two-run single to right field to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

With two outs in the sixth inning, Boston plated four additional runs on back-to-back-to-back-to-back RBI knocks from Hernandez, Chang, McGuire, and Pham. Pham and Devers drove in two more runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox a commanding 13-3 lead.

Out of the Boston bullpen, four relievers combined for four scoreless frames. Kaleb Ort walked and struck out two in the sixth, John Schreiber walked and struck out in the seventh, Matt Strahm struck out the side in the eighth, and Matt Barnes stranded one base runner in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a blowout win.

In terms of offensive production, Pham went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk, Devers went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with his 40th double of the season and two runs scored, Hernandez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two walks, and four runs scored, Chang went 2-for-3 with an RBI, two walks, and one run scored, and McGuire went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

With his first-inning double, Bogaerts collected the 1,400th hit of his big-league career. The 29-year-old shortstop becomes just the fourth player in Red Sox history to reach 1,400 hits before turning 30, joining the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.

Next up: On to Cincinnati

The Red Sox will enjoy an off-day on Monday as they prepare to travel to Cincinnati for a quick two-game series against the Reds. Rookie right-hander Brayan Bello is slated to start Tuesday’s opener opposite left-hander Nick Lodolo.

First pitch from Great American Ballpark is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox get shut out for second time this month in 9-0 loss to Royals

The Red Sox failed to score a run in their loss to the Royals on Saturday afternoon. Boston fell to Kansas City, 9-0, at Fenway Park to drop to 70-75 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 23rd start of the year for the Sox, was tagged for nearly half of those runs. The veteran left-hander surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

The Royals got the scoring started in the top of the third. After reaching base on a one-out single, Nate Eaton stole second and scored from there on an RBI single off the bat of MJ Melendez. Malendez also advanced to second before scoring on another RBI single from Salvadar Perez that gave Kansas City an early 2-0 lead.

Boston had a chance to respond right away in the latter half of the frame. Matched up against Royals starter Brady Singer, the bottom third of the Sox lineup filled the bases without recording an out. Despite getting that far, though, Tommy Pham popped out to the catcher, Rafael Devers struck out looking, and J.D. Martinez popped out into foul territory.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the fifth. After Bobby Witt Jr. drove in Melendez with an RBI single, Witt Jr. scored all the way from first on a Vinnie Pasquantino double that right fielder Alex Verdugo lost in the sun.

Pasquantino was the final batter Hill faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 81 (58 strikes) and was charged with his seventh loss of the season as his ERA rose to 4.70. He was given the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier, who needed just three pitches to record the final out of the fifth.

The sixth inning marked the major-league debut of relief prospect Franklin German. The right-hander failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, as he loaded the bases with no outs before yielding an RBI single to Nate Eaton. Eduard Bazardo was called upon to extinguish the flames, but he allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a Melendez force out and singles from Witt Jr. and Pasquantino.

German was tagged for four runs on two hits and two walks. Bazardo, on the other hand, worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh before handing things over to Tyler Danish, who served up a leadoff double to Melendez and a two-out RBI single to Pasquantino to make it a 9-0 game in favor of Kansas City.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Danish, the Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half to seal their fifth shutout loss of the season and their second in the last 10 days.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Bubic in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Righty Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston opposite lefty Kris Bubic for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Yankees acquire former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from Royals

The Yankees have acquired former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals in exchange for three pitching prospects, the clubs announced late Wednesday night.

Benintendi, 28, was viewed as an appealing target ahead of the August 2 trade deadline given the fact that he is slated to become a free-agent at the end of the season and was playing for a 39-59 Royals team that is not contending for anything.

A first-time All-Star in his second year in Kansas City, the left-handed hitting Benintendi is currently batting .320/.387/.398 with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 39 RBIs, 40 runs scored, four stolen bases, 39 walks, and 52 strikeouts over 93 games (390 plate appearances) this season.

Defensively, Benintendi is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he took home the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder has yet to commit an error at the position this season while posting an ultimate zone rating of 7.1 across 766 innings.

While Benintendi’s on-field performance has been solid, there were some concerns about his unwillingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after missing the Royals’ four-game series in Toronto earlier this month. It remains to be seen if he has changed his stance and will get vaccinated now that he is on a contender, but the Yankees only have to play three more regular season games north of the border (from September 26-28), anyway.

In return for Benintendi, the Royals are receiving right-handers Chandler Champlain and Beck Way and left-hander T.J. Sikkema from the Yankees. Champlain, selected in the ninth round of last year’s draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 29 prospect in New York’s farm system. Way, selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in New York’s farm system. Sikkema, selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in New York’s farm system.

Interestingly enough, the Royals are slated to open a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx on Thursday, so Benintendi will not need to travel far to join his new team.

Benintendi, who spent the first five years of his major-league career (and won a World Series title with) the Red Sox, will get to experience baseball’s greatest rivalry from the other side when the Yankees come to Boston for a three-game series at Fenway park next month.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

In Brian Keller, Red Sox add intriguing right-hander who found success out of the bullpen at Triple-A in 2021

The Red Sox have seemingly made an annual tradition of poaching prospects away from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and they did so again on Wednesday.

After selecting Royals left-hander Austin Lambright with their top pick, the Sox took Yankees right-hander Brian Keller with their second and final pick of the day.

Keller, 27, was originally selected by New York in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career, but what he did out of the bullpen in 2021 stands out.

On the heels of the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller opened the 2021 campaign at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre as a member of the RailRiders’ starting rotation.

Out of the gate, Keller managed to keep runs off the board as evidenced by his 2.57 ERA through his first six starts. However, the Wisconsin native did so while walking as many batters as he struck out (21) and putting up a sky-high 6.36 FIP over 21 innings of work.

Beginning June 15, Keller was moved to Scranton’s bullpen on a near-full-time basis, as 15 of his 20 appearances from that point forward came as a reliever. As a result of that switch, the righty proceeded to post a 2.88 ERA and 3.16 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 25 walks across 34 1/3 innings pitched to close out the season.

All told, Keller pitched to the tune of a 3.56 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and .781 OPS against in 11 starts spanning 30 1/3 innings in 2021. Out of the bullpen, he produced a much lower 1.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and .535 OPS against in 15 outings spanning 25 innings in 2021.

Not only that, but Keller’s strikeout rate increased from 19.7% as a starter to 34% as a reliever, while his walk rate slightly decreased from 19.7% as a starter to 16% as a reliever.

Per a recent report from Baseball America, Keller “gave up very little hard contact as a reliever” this year. He also “works up and down in the strike zone with a four-seam 91-95 mph fastball and a downer curveball, but he also can mix in a slider and cutter.”

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Keller — who does not turn 28 until next June — was identified by Baseball America as someone who could provide a team with pitching depth given his experience in the minors.

Since Chaim Bloom took over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in 2019, the Red Sox have made a habit of combing the Yankees’ farm system for both major- and minor-league pitching depth.

In 2019, the Sox selected right-hander Raynel Espinal from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and did the very same thing with fellow righty Kaleb Ort the following winter.

Both Espinal and Ort made their big-league debuts this past season, but Boston’s biggest discovery was undoubtedly Garrett Whitlock, who they poached from New York in the major-league portion of last year’s Rule 5 Draft.

On that note, it is worth mentioning that the big-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely while Major League Baseball remains in a lockout.

(Picture of Brian Keller: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe comes up short, but former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi wins first career Gold Glove Award with Royals

Red Sox right fielder Hunter Renfroe was unable to win his first career Gold Glove Award on Sunday night.

Renfroe was named one of three finalists for the award among all American League right fielders late last month alongside Houston’s Kyle Tucker, but the honors on Sunday instead fell to Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo.

The winners were announced by Rawlings and Major League Baseball on ESPN.

While Renfroe outpaced Gallo in terms of both defensive innings (1,166 to 764 2/3) and outfield assists (16 to 9) from right field this season, Gallo led the way in fielding percentage (.980 to .956), defensive runs saved (11 to 0), ultimate zone rating (2.8 to -1.6), and ultimate zone rating per 150 games (3.8 to -2.1), according to FanGraphs.

It also did not help that Renfroe led all major-league outfielders in errors with 12 while registering negative-one outs above average in right field this year, per FanGraphs.

Renfroe, who turns 30 in January, was Boston’s lone finalist for a Gold Glove Award, though Christian Vazquez and Enrique Hernandez are among those on the team who may have had a case to be made at their respective primary positions (catcher and center field) but wound up getting snubbed.

Despite the fact that Renfroe came up short on Sunday, it should be mentioned that former Red Sox left fielder won his first career Gold Glove Award as a member of the Royals.

Benintendi, who the Red Sox dealt to the Royals as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, logged 1,116 defensive innings over 129 games in left field in his first season with Kansas City.

The 27-year-old was named a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders alongside the likes of Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All three of Benintendi, Arozarena, and Gurriel Jr. finished the 2021 campaign having put up seven defensive runs saved in left field, but Benintendi ultimately led the pack in ultimate zone rating (4.9), ultimate zone rating per 150 games (5.5), and outs above average (1).

By winning his first Gold Glove Award, Benintendi joins former teammates Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. as now-former Red Sox outfielders to win at least one Gold Glove in their respective careers.

Betts has taken home five Gold Glove Awards in his time with the Red Sox and Dodgers, while Bradley Jr. and Benintendi have each won it once.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Hunter Renfroe homer, Kiké Hernández makes jaw-dropping diving catch as Red Sox top Royals, 6-2, on rain-filled night at Fenway Park

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)

Red Sox acquire right-handers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from Royals as players to be named later to complete three-team Andrew Benintendi trade; Freddy Valdez also acquired from Mets

In addition to acquiring outfield prospect Freddy Valdez as the player to be named later from the Mets in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade, the Red Sox have also received right-handed pitching prospects Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell as the two players to be named later from the Mets, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

De La Rosa, who turns 19 next month, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for approximately $147,500 by Kansas City in July 2018.

While he is not listed at the top of many prospect boards, De La Rosa did impress in his professional debut in 2019.

In 12 outings (11 starts) in the Dominican Summer League, the lanky 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.92 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 52 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings of work en route to being named the Dominican Royals 1 Pitcher of the Year.

According to his Baseball America scouting report from when he first signed with the Royals three years ago, De La Rosa — a former shortstop — “has an array of positive projection indicators, with some of that projection already starting to bear out.” As of that writing, the young hurler was working with a fastball, a slider, and an “advanced changeup for his age.”

A native of Santo Domingo, De La Rosa will become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in December 2022.

Gambrell, meanwhile, was originally selected by the Royals in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. He later signed with the club for $647,500.

The 23-year-old came into the 2021 campaign regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 21 prospect in Kansas City’s farm system even after not pitching at all the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the minor-league season.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Gambrell’s FanGraphs scouting report goes as follows (courtesy of Eric Longenhagen):

“At his best, Gambrell sits in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball (there might be two, but if so, they’ve run together in my looks) and a tailing, mid-80s changeup that he uses in some clever ways, including as a means to jam righties. His stuff has been inconsistent and he missed considerable time with injury during college, which creates some relief risk. We’re talking about a pitcher who only worked about four innings per outing during his sophomore year, and struggled when the Royals asked him to work as a starter and blow way past his previous single-year innings total after they drafted him in 2019. 

“But Gambrell was sitting 94-96 during 2021 spring action and looked to me to be in much better shape than the last time I saw him. The 2020 layoff means the innings increase piece of Gambrell’s developmental track still feels harrowing, but he has a power-pitcher’s repertoire and a chance to really blow up this year because he came to camp with a totally different body.”

Opening the 2021 season with High-A Quad Cities, Gambrell produced a 4.37 ERA and 4.06 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 28 strikeouts through his first five starts (22 2/3 innings pitched) of the year.

Upon his integration into the Red Sox organization, it seems likely that Gambrell would report to High-A Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

The three-team trade between the Red Sox, Royals, and Mets, which was initially agreed to back on February 10, has now been made completely official.

Here are the full returns for all three teams:

Red Sox get: OF Franchy Cordero (from KC), RHPs Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell (from KC), RHP Josh Winckowski (from NYM), and OF Freddy Valdez (from NYM)

Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi (from BOS)

Mets get: OF Khalil Lee (from BOS via KC)

What a journey it has been.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox could be nearing decision on which 2 players to be named later they will be acquiring from Royals to complete Andrew Benintendi trade; player to be named later from Mets due June 4, per report

UPDATE: According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox “are due to acquire the remaining three players to be named later” in the near future, while “the player from the Mets — assumed to be the best player of the three — is due by Friday,” June 4.

The Red Sox could soon decide on the two players to be named later they will be acquiring from the Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, according to The Kansas City’s Star Lynn Worthy.

Per Worthy, the Sox could very well make their decision within the next week or two.

Boston originally dealt Benintendi to the Royals back in February in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero, outfield prospect Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later. They then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and another player to be named later.

According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, the two players the Sox receive from the Royals will likely be of the “lower-level” variety in regards to prospect rankings, while the player they get from the Mets “is likely to be a higher quality prospect.”

Of the five players Boston will eventually get back in this three-team swap, they have gotten mixed results from the two who have already joined the organization.

Cordero, who made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, hit a disappointing .179/.228/.274 with just one home run, six doubles, nine RBI, six walks, and 37 strikeouts in 34 games before being demoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 26.

Since being sent down, though, Cordero has shown some signs of life. The 26-year-old has gone 5-for-12 with a pair of homers and three RBI in his first three games with the WooSox.

Winckowski, meanwhile, has been one of the organization’s most impressive pitching prospects to this point in the minor-league season.

Through his first five starts with Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old hurler has posted a miniscule 1.33 ERA and 0.89 WHIP to go along with a 26:9 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 27 innings of work thus far.

His latest start was unquestionably his best, as he twirled seven scoreless frames of one-hit baseball against the Hartford Yard Goats on Saturday en route to picking up his second win of the season for the Sea Dogs.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Winckowski operates with a fastball, slider, changeup and splitter.

“There’s a good foundation there,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Smith) when speaking about Winckowski last month. “The changeup shows a lot of promise. It’s a pretty hard changeup right now but you can still have success with that. It’s more of a power change. And that pitch is going to evolve but I think his other stuff will evolve, too. And he’s going to learn different ways to use it as he goes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi crushes 2 homers for Royals; former Red Sox outfielder has found success since moving down in Kansas City’s lineup

Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.

After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.

Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.

In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.

As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.

But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.

Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.

Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.

Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.

At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.

Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”

Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.

Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.

The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.

The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox right-hander Mike Shawaryn signs minor-league deal with Royals

Former Red Sox right-hander Mike Shawaryn has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals, the team announced Tuesday.

Shawaryn, 26, was originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Maryland.

In his time with the organization, the New Jersey native emerged as one of the top pitching prospects the club had to offer before he made his big-league debut in June 2019.

Over 14 appearances spanning two separate stints with the Red Sox in ’19, Shawaryn posted a 9.74 ERA and .978 OPS against while accruing 20 1/3 innings of work.

On the surface, those numbers were far from encouraging, but Shawaryn’s first exposure to the major-leagues was really a tale of two seasons.

From June 7 through June 18, the former Terrapin yielded just one earned run on four hits, five walks, and 15 strikeouts over his first six outings and 10 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 0.90.

From June 22 through September 26, he surrendered a whopping 21 earned runs on 22 hits, eight walks, and 14 strikeouts over his final eight outings and 10 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 18.29.

Despite those struggles, Shawaryn was still invited to the Sox’ alternate training site last July, though he was ultimately designated for assignment and outrighted off the club’s 40-man roster the following month.

Going into the 2021 season, the 6-foot-2, 240 pound hurler did not receive an invite to big-league spring training but was still included on the Red Sox’ initial alternate site roster.

It’s unclear how much work Shawaryn got while in Worcester, but he was apparently released by the Red Sox on April 25 and has since joined the Royals on a minor-league pact.

Kansas City should already be quite familiar with Shawaryn, as they originally drafted the righty out of Gloucester Catholic High School (N.J.) in 2013, but he chose to honor his commitment to Maryland instead.

Equipped with a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, sinker, and changeup, Shawaryn has been assigned to the Royals’ alternate training site in Northwest Arkansas and will presumably begin the minor-league season with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, Neb.

(Picture of Mike Shawaryn: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)