Aaaaaaaand it’s another sweep. The Red Sox finish off their nine-game road trip with a 7-2 record and they have their third sweep in four series. That seems really good! This one was a little frustrating for the first half before Rick Porcello settled in and the offense started to get going. It’s tough to ever go into a series expecting a sweep, but given how bad the Royals are right now this series can reasonably be described as taking care of business.
The very early parts of this game were quiet on both sides. Rick Porcello appeared to have some of his best command and pitch mix in the first couple of innings. Against one of the worst offenses in the league, that should be enough for a strong day. It didn’t stay that way very long, unfortunately. On the other side, the Royals subbed Heath Fillmyer into the starting role at the last second, replacing the injured Jake Junis. Given the late substitution and lack of major-league time for Fillmyer, this was setting up to be a trap game since Boston didn’t have much info or preparation time for the righty.
As it turned out, neither team got on the board in the first two innings. For Porcello, it was a relatively easy six outs as Kansas City managed just a leadoff single from Whit Merrifield, who spent the weekend killing Red Sox pitching. Frustratingly, the Red Sox did manage to give themselves some scoring chances. In fact, they managed two baserunners with fewer than two outs in each of the first two innings, but they also hit into a double play in both the first and the second and that helped lead to a scoreless game.
After those first two innings, the game turned into something of a ping pong match. In the third, Mookie Betts drew a walk and Andrew Benintendi hit a single (his eighth straight plate appearance in which he reached base) to put runners on the corners. Steve Pearce would come up next, and he came through with a sacrifice fly to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, Porcello would have trouble with Merrifield and company in the bottom half. Drew Butera and Merrifield would start a rally with back-to-back one-out singles before Jorge Bonifacio knocked both in on a double to give the Royals the lead.
The Red Sox would quickly make that lead disappear. Xander Bogaerts started off the fourth with what looked like a routine grounder to shortstop. However, Aldaberto Mondesi booted it into center field, and Bogaerts made a great, heads-up decision to get to second base on the error. That would be important as Eduardo Núñez came through later in the inning with an RBI single to tie the game.
Yet again, however, Kansas City answered back in the bottom half of the inning. Porcello was really starting to lose his command at this point, leaving far too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He gave up a single to Alex Gordon, who then moved to second on a ground out and to third on a pitch in the dirt. There were two outs at this point, but Porcello couldn’t finish off Mondesi. The young infielder smacked a single into center field and just like that the Royals had their lead right back.
Of course, I already told you this game was a ping pong match and that continued in the top half of the fifth. Once again, Betts and Benintendi started the rally, this time with each getting singles (and Benintendi extending his on-base streak to nine plate appearances). Pearce would load the bases with a single of his own, and Mitch Moreland drew a walk to score a run and tie the game. That led to a new pitcher, but before Glenn Sparkman could escape the inning he allowed a sacrifice fly to Xander Bogaerts and Boston left their half of the fifth with a 4-3 lead.
Finally, in the bottom half, a pitcher managed a shutdown inning. Porcello did give up a leadoff double to (who else?) Merrifield, but he managed to work around that and get out of the inning without allowing a run.
After both sides were scoreless in the sixth, the Red Sox offense turned it on in the seventh. That inning started with four consecutive hits, including another single for Beninteni to up his on-base streak to ten plate appearances. It’s really getting silly at this point. Anyway, they would ned up putting three more runs on the board in the seventh and opened up a 7-3 lead.
That brought Porcello back out for the bottom half of the inning as he approached 100 pitches. Things did not get off to a good start for Rick as he allowed a leadoff single followed by a double to Merrifield. All of a sudden, the Royals had two in scoring position with nobody out. Alex Cora came out to the mound but opted to stick with his starter, and that worked out. Porcello came back with two strikeouts and a pop up to end the inning with no runs going on the scoreboard.
After a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox, Matt Barnes came on in the bottom half with a four-run lead in hand. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. With the same 7-3 score in the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Thornburg came on for his second outing with the Red Sox. Things did not go super well for him as he allowed a run on a double and a single while recording just one out before handing things off to Craig Kimbrel. After allowing a single to the first batter he faced, he got a couple of strikeouts to close the door and lock up the victory.
The Red Sox will be back at Fenway on Monday as they look for their seventh straight win. They’ll be going up against the Rangers this time and it will be Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Mike Minor. First pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.