RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Homers Again as #RedSox Close out First Half with 68th Win of Season.

On the last day before hitting the All-Star break, the Red Sox were looking to end the first half of their season on a positive note by taking three out of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Making his first start for the team since July 3rd, Brian Johnson returned from the disabled list in effective fashion on Sunday afternoon.

In just over four innings pitched, the lefty surrendered two runs on two hits and four walks while tying a season-high in strikeouts with five on the day.

Four walks in that short of an outing usually is not a good sign for a pitcher, but Johnson found himself working his away around them to avoid anything too detrimental.

In fact, the only real costly mistake the Florida native made came in the third inning, when with one out and a runner at second, Johnson left a 0-1, 76 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate, and Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez made him pay for it, as he sent it 349 feet into the Monster seats for a two-run shot, tying the game at two runs a piece.

Following that home run though, Johnson proceeded to retire seven of the final eight batters he faced, and with two outs in the top half of the fifth and Hernandez due up for Toronto, got the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (52 strikes), the 27 year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball just over 51% of the time on Sunday, and topped out at 92 MPH with it in the first inning.

Since rejoining the Red Sox rotation on June 28th against the Angels, Johnson has yet to go deeper than five innings in three outings, yet the Red Sox are unbeaten in all three of those starts.

In relief of Johnson, as I had previously mentioned, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Needing one out to close out the top half of the fifth, Workman struck out the only batter he faced, Hernandez, on seven pitches.

From that point on, despite a more than welcome amount of traffic on the base paths, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree all tossed a scoreless inning of relief each, setting up Craig Kimbrel for the save opportunity with a three-run lead to work with in the ninth.

Making his last appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen before heading to Washington DC for his seventh All-Star Game, Kimbrel notched his 30th save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two straight punch outs to close this thing out and secure his teams 68th win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.

Never trailing in this game, Xander Bogaerts stayed red-hot and started off the scoring with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot sent 423 feet over the Monster, to put the Red Sox on the board first.

Four batters later, after JD Martinez drew a seven pitch walk and Mitch Moreland reached first on a fielding error, Brock Holt came through with his first of two RBI knocks on the day, as he scored Martinez from third on a hard-hit bloop single to center field, putting the Red Sox up 2-0 early.

After Toronto came back to tie things back up again in the third, a Sandy Leon leadoff double in the fifth got a mini rally started for the Red Sox.

Following that up with a double of his own of off Stroman, Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run while also collecting his 31st RBI of the season and giving his team a one run lead they would not have to look back from.

That was followed by a Mookie Betts flyout that allowed Bradley to tag up and advance to third, setting up another prime scoring chance.

Looking for his second RBI of the day, Xander Bogaerts managed to drive in Bradley from third by hitting a comebacker that got a piece of Stroman’s knee. The Blue Jays were able to recover and get the out at first, but the Red Sox had a two-run cushion to work with now.

In the sixth, Brock Holt wrapped up the scoring for the Red Sox with another RBI single, this one just out of the reach of Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, as Mitch Moreland came in to score from second to put Boston up 5-2.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead of the season.

The Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games and are 17-3 in their last 20.

This is the first time since 2007 that Boston enters the All-Star break with MLB’s best record (68-30, .694).

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts owns an OPS of 1.154.

Over his last six games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .333 with five extra-base hits and five RBI.

With the next four days off, the Red Sox will resume their season schedule next Friday, as they open up a six game road trip starting in Detroit.

Starting pitchers for that series have yet to be officially announced by the team yet, but for the Tigers, it will be Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, and Michael Fulmer getting the start for the upcoming weekend series.

Before then, let’s just enjoy watching our five All-Stars in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

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RECAP: Walk-Off Grand Slam from Xander Bogaerts Halts #RedSox Losing Streak at One in 6-2 Win over Blue Jays.

Less than a day after suffering their first loss in nearly two weeks at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox were back it against Toronto Saturday afternoon, looking to start a new winning streak heading into the All-Star Break.

Making his 19th start of the season on Saturday, Eduardo Rodriguez came out guns blazing against a team he has had issues with in the past.

Over the first five innings of this one, Rodriguez looked like a man who could not be stopped, as the lefty retired 15 of the 17 batters he saw while needing just 59 pitches to do so.

Things were looking great for the Red Sox heading into the sixth inning. With a 1-0 lead and Rodriguez dealing on the mound, it seemed as if win #67 was right around the corner.

Unfortunately, it was not that easy, and after getting the first out of that sixth inning, Rodriguez would have to leave the game with a right ankle sprain following an ugly collision with Lourdes Gurriel at first base.

The good news here, if any, is the fact that, according to Alex Cora, Rodriguez did not damage his surgically repaired right knee to any extent.

Finishing with a final pitching line of 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 5 K on 67 pitches (47 strikes), it was certainly disappointing to see the Venezuela native’s day come to an end in the manner it did.

In what could have been his best outing of the season, we are left to hope that Rodriguez’s sprained ankle will not take all that much time to heal. The All-Star break could play a role in his timetable to return as well. Just have to wait and see for now.

Coming into a game he was initially not prepared for, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen.

With Gurriel already at first, Hembree did walk a man to put the go-ahead run on base, but escaped any real damage by getting Justin Smoak to fly out to center for the third and final out of the top half of the sixth.

A struggling Joe Kelly got the next call to begin the seventh inning, and he allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

After inducing two straight ground outs, one that drove in the tying run from third, Kelly walked Luke Maile, the Jays’ number nine hitter, on four straight balls, thus ending his day before it could even really get started.

That made way for Matt Barnes to enter and try to get out of this mess, and although it’s not entirely his doing,  he did give up what was the go-ahead run on a Lourdes Gurriel RBI single, closing the book on what was another miserable appearance for Joe Kelly.

From that point on though, Barnes held things in check by striking out Yangervis to retire the side in the seventh. And in the eighth, the UCONN product worked his way around back-to-back two out walks to punch out Randal Grichuk on three straight strikes, retiring the side and keeping it a one run game.

An inning later, Brandon Workman was given the responsibility of keeping his team within striking distance going into the bottom of the ninth. In response to this, Workman needed only 12 pitches to retire the only three batters he faced in order, which proved to be beneficial for the Red Sox a few minutes later.

With this contest now tied and headed into extra innings, Craig Kimbrel came out for a non-save opportunity in the tenth. Having seen his fair share of action these past few days, Kimbrel nonetheless still impressed with a two strikeout performance to keep things knotted up at two runs a piece. Thanks to his efforts, the Red Sox closer notched his second winning decision of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup did not have themselves the best of days at the plate on Saturday, and it looked as if that was ultimately going to cost them in the end.

JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston in the fourth inning, as he led the bottom half of the frame off by launching a 389 foot missile into the Monster seats off Jays starter Sam Gaviglio for his 29th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth inning now, and scattered amongst other opportune scoring chances, the best one up to this point in the day probably happened in the eighth.

A one out single off the bat of Mookie Betts, followed by an E5 committed by Yangervis Solarte, allowed Betts to reach second, representing the tying run.

With Brock Holt at the plate, Betts was able to catch Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini sleeping, and easily swiped third to put the tying run just 90 feet away.

Unfortunately, Betts could not advance, as Holt hit a hard ground out to second with the infield playing in, and JD Martinez struck out to end the inning. At that point, I’m thinking this thing is over. Get it done with, go home, and come back to split the series tomorrow, or so I thought.

From the middle of the ninth inning on, Xander Bogaerts was the star of the show for the Red Sox.

Facing off against long time late inning man Tyler Clippard, Bogaerts led his teams half of the ninth off by ripping a double down the left field line, once again putting the tying run in scoring position.

Two pitches into the next at bat, Jackie Bradley Jr. lined another double, this one hit to right field and allowing Bogaerts to easily score from second. And just like that, we had ourselves a 2-2 game.

In the tenth, a four-run rally was started by another fielding error committed by the Blue Jays. This time, in what looked like a routine ground out off the bat of Mookie Betts for the second out of the inning, turned into the go-ahead run being on first after Toronto’s shortstop, the aforementioned Lourdes Gurriel, could not come up with the ball cleanly.

That allowed Betts to reach first, and three batters later, after Jays reliever Chris Rowley had intentionally walked JD Martinez to load the bases, Xander Bogaerts sent the Fenway faithful home happy.

2-0 hitters count, 87 MPH fastball, 104 MPH and 392 feet off the bat, grand slam, ballgame over with a final score of 6-2.

The Toronto Blue Jays and giving up dramatic grand slams, name a more iconic duo.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 67-30. They have hit two grand slams in the past three days and have not lost consecutive games since June 19-20th.

From @SoxNotes: Xander Bogaerts is the first Red Sox player to hit a walk-off grand slam since Rico Brogna on August 14, 2000 vs. Tampa Bay.

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts has a 1.142 OPS with 3 home runs and 18 runs driven.

JD Martinez collected his 80th RBI this afternoon, the most in all of baseball.

Going for the series win tomorrow afternoon, it will be Brian Johnson making his first start since being placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip back on July 8th. As of this time, no corresponding roster move has officially been made, but I would guess it would be Tzu-Wei Lin or Bobby Poyner.

Johnson will be matched up against Jays righty Marcus Stroman. Stroman, 27, owns a 5.90 ERA in 11 games started this season, but has looked better on the mound as of late.

First pitch of the final game of the first half of the season is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

 

RECAP: Steve Pearce Hits First Homer in a Red Sox Uniform, JD Martinez Blasts 28th Home Run, and #RedSox Win Seventh Straight.

Coming off a road trip in which they went 7-2, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park last night to take on the Texas Rangers, who currently sit in last place in the American League West.

Looking for his team’s seventh straight win, Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for his 18th start of the season on Monday.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the lefty held the Rangers scoreless while scattering three hits and three walks while recording five strikeouts in exactly 5.2 frames.

With another shutout performance, although it certainly was not his best, Rodriguez has now extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.2 going back to the final two innings of his start against the Yankees.

In his full two starts since then, both in July, the Venezuela native has a pitching line that looks like this: 2-0, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K.

It would be nice if he could consistently pitch deeper into games, but at this point, I think it’s time to accept that is not going to happen as frequently as the Red Sox would like. But when you toss back-to-back shutouts, it becomes less of an issue.

Finishing with a final high pitch count of 105 (68 strikes), Rodriguez departed from last night’s contest in the sixth after recording the first two outs of the inning and allowing two straight Rangers to reach. Out of those 105 pitches, the 25 year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time, topping out at 95.5 MPH with it in the fourth inning. He’ll look to carry over this recent success in his last start before the All-Star Break, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen saw the shutout through to its completion. Heath Hembree got out of the jam in the sixth, Brandon Workman gave up a leadoff triple in the seventh but did not allow that potential run to cross the plate, Joe Kelly struck out two in the eighth, and making his Red Sox debut, Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap up his new team’s 63rd win of the season. Brasier, who had not pitched in the majors since 2013, was actually responsible for eight of the 12 fastest thrown pitches all night, according to Statcast.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup needed just two swings of the bat to take care of Texas on Monday night.

The first came in the bottom half of the first inning. In his first at bat in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park, Steve Pearce took Rangers starter Mike Minor deep to left on a 3-2 fastball right down broadway. His fifth big fly of the season, a two-run shot, was also his first since being acquired by Boston on June 28th.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth now, with Jesse Chavez on the mound for the Rangers, and JD Martinez essentially put this game out of reach.

Following two singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to leadoff the inning, Chavez tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate and paid for it dearly, as Martinez scorched his 28th big fly of the season 374 feet into the Monster seats, making it a 5-0 game.

Some notes from this win:

The top four hitters in the Red Sox lineup last night, Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Pearce, went a combined 8/16 with five RBI and five runs scored. Other than that, Sandy Leon was the only other hitter to reach base.

Speaking of Andrew Benintendi, you should be voting for him right now. If I can’t convince you, maybe Brock Holt can.

redsox.com/vote

Looking for the series win along with their eighth straight win, Hector Velazquez gets the ball for the Red Sox tonight. Making his first start since April 14th against the Orioles, he’ll be matched up against fellow Mexico native Yovani Gallardo for Texas. First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

Xander Bogaerts Is Your American League Player of the Week.

To cap off a perfect 6-0 week for the Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts was named AL Player of the Week earlier Monday afternoon.

After slashing .400/.600/.933 with two home runs and eight RBI in his last five games, it is clear to see why the Red Sox shortstop was deserving of the honor.

Overall, Bogaerts has had himself a solid season, maybe one that has flown under the radar for most. He’s not hitting for a high average as he has done in the past, but a .520 slugging percentage and a AB/HR rate of just over 20 would set new career highs for the Aruba native.

Out of 25 qualified shortstops, Bogaerts ranks 6th in fWAR via Fangraphs, which is impressive when you consider he missed nearly three weeks of games while on the disabled list with a left ankle injury.

On the National League side, after a 10 RBI performance on Saturday, Nationals first baseman Mark Reynolds was selected as the other Player of the Week.

Also, don’t forget to vote for Andrew Benintendi for the AL Final Vote in this year’s All-Star Game. Here’s the link.

redsox.com/vote

 

RECAP: Nine Strikeout Day for Rick Porcello Key for #RedSox in 7-4 Win to Complete Sweep of Royals.

Wrapping up a nine game road trip in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox looked for their sixth straight win and their second straight sweep. With a rookie pitcher making his first career start on the bump for the Royals, they got that done in fairly simple fashion.

In his 19th start of the season yesterday, Rick Porcello was certainly not at his best, but credit to him for limiting the damage, which is something he excels at.

Pitching seven full innings in this one, the righty surrendered three runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk while also tying a season-high in strikeouts with nine on the day.

What looked to be a stress free outing for Porcello turned into a bit of a rough one starting in the third inning and carrying over to the fourth as well. Over that stretch, the Royals got to the New Jersey native for five of their nine hits, three which came consecutively in the third, and all three of their runs. After what David Price went through on Saturday night, this did not seem all that encouraging, but Porcello settled down after that.

After striking out Adalberto Mondesi to retire the side in the sixth, you would think that Porcello’s day would come to an end with his pitch count nearing 100. Instead, he came back out for the seventh.

That decision looked like it was going to backfire immediately for Alex Cora and the Red Sox, as the Royals led the bottom half of the frame off by putting runners on second and third after consecutive hits from Drew Butera and Whit Merrifield.

Following a brief mound visit from Cora, Porcello still remained in the game, high pitch count and all. He must have gotten strong words of encouragement during that visit, because he sat down the next three batters he faced on 10 pitches to both strand the runners in scoring position and end his day on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 111 (78 strikes), the 29 year-old hurler relied on his slider the most yesterday, as he went to it 40 times. He also topped out at 93.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the seventh inning.

Beginning his July with two solid outings against the Nationals and Royals, Porcello will look to build on this success he has found in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in what will be his last start before the All-Star Break.

In relief of Porcello, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the eighth inning, and he retired the side in order while picking up two strikeouts along the way.

That set things up for Tyler Thornburg to make his second appearance in three days for the ninth, and he was not at the top of his game either. Keep in mind that it as a 7-3 game by the time Thornburg took the mound, but he was unable to finish the inning while allowing the Royals to score their fourth run of the contest. With that being said, Craig Kimbrel had to come on in what turned out to be a save opportunity.

With two outs still to get, the Red Sox closer gave up a single to Jorge Bonifacio, which meant the tying run for Kansas City was now at the plate and represented by Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda after him.

Luckily, Kimbrel buckled down, struck out both Moustakas and Duda, and came away with his 27th save of the season to ensure his teams 62nd win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher in Heath Fillmyer who had yet to make a big league start. Righty Jakob Junis was supposed to make the start for the Royals, but he was placed on the disabled list with lower back inflammation on Sunday morning.

Instead, Fillmyer got the nod, and it took a little while for the Red Sox lineup to get going. In fact, it wasn’t until the third inning when they finally got on the board thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Steve Pearce to score Mookie Betts from third.

After the Royals took the 2-1 lead in their half of the third, Eduardo Nunez responded by driving in the tying run on a one out RBI single in the fourth to score Xander Bogaerts, who had reached base on a fielding error to leadoff the top half of the frame, from second.

Following another bottom half of an inning in which the Royals tacked on what looked to be a go-ahead run, the Red Sox responded again in the top of the fifth.

With Fillmyer still on the mound for Kansas City, The 1-2-3 hitters in the Red Sox lineup all reached base with one out to load the bases for Mitch Moreland. In a five pitch at bat, Moreland eventually drew a walk to score Mookie Betts from third and pick up his first of two RBI on the day.

Following a pitching change, Xander Bogaerts followed that Moreland at bat up by simply launching a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Andrew Benintendi to easily score from third for what turned out to be the go-ahead run.

Fast forward to the seventh now, and the Red Sox essentially put this thing out of reach by tacking on an additional three runs of insurance. Highlighted by RBI hits from Moreland, Bogaerts, and Nunez, Boston entered the seventh with a 4-3 lead, and by the time the side had been retired by Royals reliever Enny Romero, that lead had inflated to 7-3. A lead in which they would not have to look back from.

Some notes from this win:

After reaching base six times on Saturday, Andrew Benintendi reached base in his first four at bats against the Royals on Sunday, taking him to ten straight plate appearances in which he reached base before striking out in the eighth.

Heading into the home stretch of the first half of the season, the Red Sox are 62-29.

With seven games still to play before hitting the All-Star Break, the Red Sox are back home to take on the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays. For the opener against Texas tonight, it will be a pitching matchup featuring two lefties in Mike Minor and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Coming off a start in which he strung together six shutout innings against the Nationals, Rodriguez will look to rebound against a team that he gave up three home runs to back on May 5th in Arlington. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM at Fenway Park.

Also, vote for Andrew Benintendi.

redsox.com/vote

RECAP: David Price Shaky Again but #RedSox Prevail in Blowout Win over Royals.

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.

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts Hits 100th Career Homer and Chris Sale Picks up 100th Career Victory as #RedSox Open Series in Kansas City with 10-5 Win.

Coming off an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox took to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO to take on the 25-61 Royals. Having already taken two out of three from them earlier this season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox, led by Chris Sale, were looking to end a nine game road trip on a positive note.

Making his 19th start of the season on Friday, Sale carried over the dominance he displayed throughout the month of June in another great showing. In what was his shortest start since June 13th, the lefty went six innings deep in this one, surrendering just one run on five hits and one walk while fanning 12 Royals on the night.

By the time Sale took the mound for the first time in the bottom half of the first, his team had already gotten him four runs of support. And an inning later, that lead inflated all the way up to eight runs. So, the 29 year-old was never under much duress on Friday night, and the Royals only got to him once, on a Alcides Escobar RBI single, in the second, in six frames of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (65 strikes), Sale displayed his full range of abilities with a fine defensive play in his final inning.

Out of those 99 pitches, the Florida native went to his nasty slider 43 times, which resulted in nine swinging strikes and 10 called strikes. He also topped out at 100.3 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.

A performance worthy of his ninth winning decision of the season, Sale reached a milestone with his 100th career win as well. He’ll look to build on this start, and make even more of a case to get his third consecutive nod for the AL in the All-Star Game, in his next time out, which should come against the Texas Rangers back at home on Wednesday.

In relief of Sale, we got our first look at Tyler Thornburg in a Red Sox uniform, and in case you were not able to catch it, I can confirm that he is a real person.

Making his first appearance with the club since being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2017 season, Thornburg gave up one run in the lone inning he pitched in the seventh. Granted, a Lucas Duda leadoff triple probably should have been a leadoff double had Mookie Betts not misplayed the ball in right field, but other than that, it certainly was not the worst relief appearance these eyes have seen.

From that point on, Brandon Workman gave up a two-run home run to Mike Moustakas in the eighth, and Hector Velazquez gave up one run on a Whit Merrifield RBI single in the ninth to make it a 10-5 game, while also picking up the final out to ensure his teams 60th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got to Royals starter Jason Hammel right away in this one. In his only other start against Boston this season, Hammel surrendered eight runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings pitched back on April 30th. On Friday night, the righty got hit hard once again, but did not make it into the fifth inning.

Leading the night off as he typically does, Mookie Betts took the third pitch he saw from Hammel and launched it 410 feet to left center for his 22nd long ball of the season.

In the process of doing that, not only did Betts put his team on the board first, but that homer was also good for the 100th of the outfielder’s career.

Four batters later, Brock Holt came to the plate with the bases loaded, and he took advantage of that by ripping an RBI single to right field to score JD Martinez from third and Steve Pearce from second.

Another two batters later, Sandy Leon put the exclamation point on an exciting opening frame by lining an RBI single of his own to right, scoring Xander Bogaerts from third for his teams fourth run of the night already.

In the second, with Hammel still on the mound for Kansas City, a pair of two-run home runs off the bats of JD Martinez (27) and Xander Bogaerts (14) doubled the Red Sox lead to eight heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and Jackie Bradley Jr. collected his 26th RBI of the season to score Eduardo Nunez from third for the ninth run of the night. An inning later, Steve Pearce capped off his three-hit with an RBI double to score Blake Swihart and put his new teams 10th and final run on the board.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: Chris Sale is in line to earn the 100th win of his career. In his last 6 starts, he has a 1.10 ERA. He has not allowed a HR in his last 44.0 innings, the longest streak of his career.

And

Players to hit 100 HR with the Red Sox before turning 26: Tony Conigliaro – 160 Jim Rice – 133 Ted Williams – 127 Mookie Betts – 100 (turns 26 on Oct. 7)

It is July 7th, JD Martinez is slashing .328/.392/.647 with 27 HR and 73 RBI. The Red Sox are also the only team in all of baseball with 60 wins.

Looking to rebound from an ugly outing against the Yankees last Sunday, David Price will get the ball for the middle game of this weekend series later tonight. He’ll be matched up against Royals righty Brad Keller, who initially started the season as a reliever, but has since transitioned into a starting role with the club. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX.