The losing streak is over. The Red Sox have finally won after an eight-game losing streak as they returned home to Fenway on Monday to take on the Royals. It was not the best of competition, but that doesn’t matter right now. Rick Porcello needed something to get him a little bit of confidence, and this did the trick. He looked as strong and as confident as he has in a very long time, getting through six innings with just one run being tallied against him. The offense had a nice day after a bit of a slow start, too, with homers from Sam Travis and Rafael Devers along with a pair of doubles for the red-hot Andrew Benintendi. The bullpen.....well, they weren’t great but the cushion was fortunately big enough to withstand that.
Coming off just a truly dreadful week-plus of baseball the Red Sox and their rotation desperately needed a break. Yes, it would be better for them to show promise against good teams and yes beating up the bottom of the league does not really prove anything. Right now, though, the Red Sox need wins and their rotation needs confidence. It doesn’t matter if it comes against a high school team. Just take the W, put it under your belt and move on. Worry about the rest later.
The Royals are not a high school team, of course, but they are among the worst teams in the majors and a team the Red Sox swept back in June. Their offense does have some talent at the top of the lineup, but power isn’t their strong suit and that’s generally how things have gotten away from Porcello so often this year. If he wasn’t going to get over his struggles with this Royals lineup in front of him, it was hard to see him ever breaking out of this funk.
Fortunately, he looked as strong as he has in a long, long time for this start. Porcello took advantage of the subpar opponent in front of him and did exactly what he was supposed to. He did give up a two-out double off the Monster to Hunter Dozier in the first, but that was all in a scoreless start to the game. He then came back in the second with another scoreless frame in the second.
In the third, he got into the most trouble he saw all day to that point. That inning started with a base hit flared out to center field before a ground ball moved the runner up to second base with one out. Porcello came back with a big strikeout after that and appeared to have gotten out of the inning with a pop up in foul ground. Sam Travis had it bounce off the tip of his glove, however, extending the at bat for Dozier. The Royals third baseman eventually drew a walk and Kansas City had two on with two out. It was a swing point for Porcello against a guy in Jorge Soler with legitimate pop, but the at bat ended with a routine grounder back to the mound to end the inning unscathed.
Porcello would come back out strong for the next two innings, allowing just a single across the two frames. The righty had one more inning in him, trying to get through six shutout innings in a desperately-needed outing. He wouldn’t get that lucky, but it wasn’t too bad. He started things off strong with a pair of strikeouts, but Cheslor Cuthbert ruined his chance at a scoreless day. Porcello tried to get a 1-2 slider by him for strike three but it hung up in Cuthbert’s power zone and it was ripped out over the wall in left field for a solo shot. In the end, Porcello would make it through the six innings and allowing only the one run on four hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
So, Porcello took care of business against a lineup he should have been able to handle. On the other side, the Red Sox offense was trying to do the same against a guy in Mike Montgomery with an ERA near 7.00 coming into this game. The early returns were....not good. They did get a two-out single from Xander Bogaerts in the first followed by a double from Andrew Benintendi, but the former ran through a stop sign at third base and was thrown out at home to end the inning. Because of course he was.
In the second the Red Sox got two more on with a pair of two-out singles, but once again they could not score. Through those first two innings Montgomery had not allowed a run and he recorded five strikeouts. Through his first three starts with Kansas City, the lefty had five strikeouts in 11 1⁄3 innings.
Fortunately, the lineup snapped into shape in the third when the lineup came around for a second time. Mookie Betts led that inning off with a walk before Rafael Devers put runners on the corners with nobody out for Bogaerts. It looked like he had grounded into a double play, but Nicky Lopez booted the ball and the Royals got no outs with the Red Sox taking a 1-0 lead. Benintendi did hit a double play after that, but Sam Travis salvaged the rally by blasting a two-run shot out to left-center field. The Red Sox left the inning with a 3-0 lead.
They would add to their lead in the fifth, too, when Devers took advantage of the 2019 baseballs. The young slugger got a curveball on the outer half and popped one out towards left field. Normally, the best-case for that kind of ball would be a wall-scraper but this one just barely made it into the first row of Monster Seats for a solo homer. It was weird, but the Red Sox would certainly take it for what was at the time a 4-0 lead.
From here, we fast-forward to the top half of the seventh with Nathan Eovaldi coming into the game with a 4-1 lead to protect. He was not great in this one as he still has not found his footing in the bullpen. After a fly out to start the inning, Eovaldi tried to get a high 0-2 fastball by Meibrys Viloria. He didn’t get it high enough and the Royals catcher hit a solo shot into the Monster Seats, suddenly cutting the lead to two. Eovaldi did allow some more hard contact in the inning, but it was for an out and he’d give up just the one run in the outing.
The Red Sox offense made sure to make up for that run and then some with a big bottom of the seventh. Sandy León got things started with a base hit before Betts drew a walk. After a deep fly ball moved León to third, Tim Hill threw a wild pitch and the Red Sox were up 5-2. Things kept going with a Bogaerts walk that led to a huge double for Benintendi, his second of the day. This one scored two — with Bogaerts actually scoring from first this time — and put the Red Sox up 7-2.
Boston did get some bad news after this when Betts was taken out of the game for the top of the eighth. He had fouled a ball off his shin earlier and the team called him day-to-day with a shin contusion.
On the mound it was Matt Barnes coming into the five-run game. He did not get off to the best of starts when he allowed a leadoff single before Soler reached on catcher’s interference. Barnes came back strong after that with a strikeout and a fly out, but he wouldn’t escape unscathed. The threw Bubba Starling a fastball middle-in just off the plate and Starling ripped it and put it just up and over the Monster. Suddenly, the Royals were within two.
For the ninth, it was up to Brandon Workman to protect the 7-5 lead. He got a strikeout to start things off but then Whit Merrifield ripped a double into left field to bring the tying run up to the plate. Workman got a big ground out after that, bringing Dozier to the plate with two outs as the tying run. The Red Sox escaped as Workman got a curveball to drop in at the top of the zone for strike three, ending the game and the skid.
The Red Sox and Royals continue their series on Tuesday with Andrew Cashner taking on Jakob Junis. The first pitch for that one is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.