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Red Sox 15, Royals 4: Five in a row thanks to the top of the lineup

Specifically, the top of the lineup.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken

The Red Sox have won five games in a row, though the latest had a little more uneasiness to it than the final score would indicate. David Price dominated the conversation around the early parts of this game, which is a much different sentence than saying he dominated the early parts of this game. The lefty had some bad command throughout his outing and pitched his team to an early deficit and only pitched with a lead for about five minutes before giving it up in unprecedented fashion. Fortunately, the lineup came to play later in the game and in the blink of an eye they turned a possible loss into a blowout win. This team is fun.

For the early parts of this game, it was all about David Price. That can mean one of two things this year, but unfortunately it was the bad kind of David Price game. After getting shelled by the Yankees last time out, the Red Sox lefty had a good chance to bounce back against the Royals lineup which happens to also be the worst offense in baseball. A good start wouldn’t quiet his critics of course, but it still would have gotten him back on track. Instead, he didn’t have his command as we’ve seen all year he can’t succeed without his command. (Most pitchers can’t.)

The first inning was actually the best for Price, though even then it was kind of clear that he wasn’t hitting his spots consistently. Still, he allowed just a one-out walk and nothing more. The second wasn’t as impressive. There, after leading the inning off with a strikeout, he tried to get Lucas Duda with a lefty-on-lefty changeup. The pitch was left too far up in the zone, however, and Duda smashed it out to right field for a solo homer to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead. It was not a great result against a notorious platoon hitter. The good news is that Price got a couple of ground outs after that, and it seemed there was a chance the solo homer would be the one bit of damage against the southpaw.

That dream quickly dissipated in the bottom half of the third when the top of the order came back up. Whit Merrifield started the rally with a single, and Jorge Bonifacio followed it up by smashing a double high off the left-field wall. That put two in scoring position for Mike Moustakas, who lined one right up the middle. The ball deflected off Price, who picked it up and opted not to throw home despite having a clear chance at an out. Personally, I didn’t mind the decision because that’s a harder throw than many realize, especially after his arm was just hit with a 98 mph line drive. That said, there was an out to be had if he made a good throw. Instead, Price tried to get the out at first, which he should have easily had but he made a soft flip to the bag instead of a real throw. That resulted in an infield single scoring a run. Price gave up a sacrifice fly after that — there would have been two outs had he made the out at first against Moustakas — and the Royals upped their lead to 3-0.

The fourth was a better inning for Price, who really needed a quick one. He did allow a double to Alcides Escobar, but also struck out three Royals for a scoreless frame.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken

While all of this was happening, the offense was having a frustrating start to this game against Brad Keller. Now, the rookie righty was coming off three consecutive impressive outings against the Astros, Mariners and Angels, so he has the potential to shut anyone down. That said, the Red Sox had chances they couldn’t cash in.

The first inning in particular looked like a good opportunity to open up an early lead for the second game in a row. Mookie Betts led things off with a double and after an Andrew Benintendi walk there were two on with nobody out for J.D. Martinez. He flew out, though, and then Mitch Moreland flew out to put runners on the corners with two outs for Xander Bogaerts. Before the shortstop could have a chance, though, Benintendi was caught stealing second on an ill-advised attempt to advance on a pitch in the dirt, and the inning was over.

After a quick second inning that included just a Brock Holt single, Betts and Benintendi were able to get on back-to-back once again in the third. Once again, Martinez failed to get through and once again the inning ended with neither of the top two Red Sox hitters reaching. After a quick fourth, the Royals had a 3-0 lead heading into the fifth.

This is where the offense finally came through against Keller. It was a two-out rally that started with Betts and Benintendi getting on back-to-back for the third time in the game. This time, Martinez didn’t fail to come through, instead smacking a base hit into left field to score one and move Benintendi to third base. After a Moreland walk, the bases were loaded for Bogaerts. The shortstop came through as he has so often this year, hitting a bases-clearing double out to center field. Just like that, the Red Sox took a 4-3 lead.

So, Price had a chance to come back with a shutdown bottom of the fifth after his team handed him a lead for the first time in the game. He had different ideas, and his command issues only got worse. Merrifield started this rally with another single, and then it got ugly. Price hit Moustakas with a pitch. Then he hit Salvador Perez with a pitch to load the bases. Then, after getting a big strikeout to get just one out away from escaping, he hit Lucas Duda with a pitch. That’s three hit batsmen in the inning — a Red Sox record! — and the game was tied. Heath Hembree would come in and get out of the inning without allowing any more.

After the Red Sox offense went down in order in the sixth, Hembree came back out for the bottom half. He allowed a couple of baserunners on a walk and a throwing error from Rafael Devers, but he was able to get Mike Moustakas to hit a routine fly ball to escape the inning with the game still tied.

The seventh started with a Benintendi walk — his fourth of the night! — and Martinez was able to follow that up with a double that just missed leaving the yard. Still, it put two in scoring position with nobody out, and Moreland was able to follow that up with a deep fly ball to score the go-ahead run. After a couple of walks, Christian Vazquez came up with two outs and the bases loaded and came through with a huge single to score two more runs and give Boston a three-run cushion.

With the new lead in tow and the middle of Kansas City’s lineup coming up, Matt Barnes came in for the bottom half. He allowed one to reach on a strikeout, but that was it. After Boston added another run on a Benintendi homer in the eighth, Joe Kelly came out for the bottom half and he would get two outs before having to leave with an injury that is not clear at this point. Brandon Workman came in to finish that inning and Hector Velazquez took the ninth after the Red Sox exploded for seven runs in the top half.

The Red Sox will go for their sixth win in a row and their third sweep in their last four series on Sunday afternoon. They’ll send Rick Porcello to the mound to take on Jake Junis, with first pitch at 2:15 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs