The Red Sox are now 6-1 since designating A.J. Pierzynski for assignment. And I will no longer be able to keep myself from updating that figure after every win until those numbers get considerably closer.
Whatever the reason behind Boston's recent run of success, they've certainly established a pattern over this past week and a half: fall behind early, stay within striking distance, then eek out just enough offense late to take a one-run lead. The good news: a one-run difference is as good as five when the ninth inning comes to an end.
It was the same script for the Red Sox Saturday night against Kansas City. Rubby De La Rosa was a little shaky out of the gates, spotting the Royals their early lead in the third after a leadoff triple from Jarrod Dyson. The Sox might have been facing a larger deficit, too, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not erased Dyson from the basepaths after a leadoff walk in the first, turning his sixth double play of the year from the outfield. Bradley didn't come too far from wiping out Dyson again in the third when he scored on Omar Infante's sacrifice fly, with his Kansas City counterpart getting in just under Christian Vazquez' tag to make it 1-0.
The lead wouldn't hold for long. While Rubby De La Rosa was primarily missing bats only by virtue of allowing walks, he managed to walk a tight rope to keep the Royals from crossing home plate for four more innings, finishing the night with seven frames of one-run baseball. Danny Duffy was having a fairly similar night, leaving the difference in the defense behind them. With one out and two men on, Yunel Escobar let a ground ball off the bat of Shane Victorino get right past him into left field, allowing Mike Napoli to score the tying run from second in an inning that otherwise would very likely have ended scoreless.
Of course, that leaves one dubious feat of Rubby's for Duffy to match: a loud hit leading to a run. Where Rubby allowed the triple to Dyson, Duffy dispensed with all the baserunning drama by giving Napoli a 3-1 fastball high in the zone, right over the middle of the plate. Napoli can muscle some good pitches into the stands, so when he gets one as bad as that...suffice it to say his moon shot could have cleared the Monster twice over, finding its way well into the Boston night.
There was nobody on base for Napoli, leaving his massive shot worth just the one run all the same, but as we've already established, one run is plenty enough when all is said and done. Rubby De La Rosa finished off his night with a 1-2-3 seventh, leading right into Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara for the eighth and ninth. Boston's bullpen proved unmovable, retiring all six batters they faced with Brock Holt making a nice ranging play up the middle to end the game.