Baseball, as people like to say, is a game of inches. It’s a funny sport where little mistakes can make massive differences, and anything is bound to happen on any given night. Individual games are full of intricacies that eventually inform the final result. Well, for the most part, any way. Sometimes you get games like Thursday afternoon at Fenway, where it was simple. The Red Sox just blew out the Royals in every facet of the game. Nathan Eovaldi was dominant. Boston got a leadoff home run, and then just kept piling on. Kansas City made a couple silly mistakes. It was just one of those games that was essentially over before it began, and it gave the Red Sox a seventh straight win as they head out to the west coast.
While the Red Sox have been winning plenty of baseball games (six in a row coming into Thursday’s game, to be exact) of late, they have been doing so in spite of what they’ve gotten from the rotation. Almost the whole group has been decent-at-best for the last few weeks, and worse than that plenty of the time as well. But Nathan Eovaldi has been one notable exception, and with the team heading west for a road trip after this game, Boston was really looking for another strong start from their de facto ace in this one.
They got exactly what they were looking for. Eovaldi was able to command all of his pitches all day long, and while there were some hits here and there, Kansas City really only felt like they were threatening once or twice throughout the day. Though to be fair, one of those times was in the first when they got base hits from two of their first three batters to get a pair on with just one out. Eovaldi was able to settle down, though, getting a fly out and a strikeout to end the inning.
And over on the other side of things, the offense wasted no time giving their pitcher a little bit of a cushion to work with. While the leadoff spot has been a big problem for this Red Sox team basically all season, Kiké Hernández has had a big week in that spot with two leadoff homers, one each on Sunday and Monday. He made it thrice in five days here on Thursday, hitting an absolute laser beam. Royals starter Kris Bubic left a changeup middle-middle, right over the plate, and Hernández sent a line drive to left field that got to the seats in about a half-second. With that swing, it was a 1-0 lead for Boston.
That was all they’d get in the inning despite getting two more on before recording the first out, but the one run was all Eovaldi needed to get through the first half of this game. The righty was everything he’s been all month, and cruised through this Royals lineup. There was a little bit more potential trouble for him in the second when he gave up a leadoff double, but from that point on he didn’t let down.
Eovaldi got three straight outs after the double to get out of that inning, then allowed just a two-out single in the third. He followed that up with a perfect fourth and a fifth inning that again just saw one base hit. With that, he was able to get through five shutout innings and help give this bullpen a much-needed breather.
The other part of giving them the breather was the offense not just settling for the one run but actually opening things up a bit. That started in the fourth inning after a couple of quiet frames. It was still a 1-0 game at this point, but J.D. Martinez quickly changed that. The slugger has been started to show signs of a hot streak, and he led this inning off with a bang, blasting a bad 1-2 changeup that stayed up in the zone for a solo shot, doubling the Red Sox lead.
Later in the inning, Danny Santana would step to the plate with two on and two out, and he got a first-pitch changeup just off the outside corner. It didn’t appear he swung with much authority, but somehow he barreled it enough to get into the bullpen for a three-run shot. With that surprising homer, the game was changed and Boston was suddenly up by five.
They kept things rolling into the fifth as well, and this is when the game was really broken open for good. After the bases loaded up with just one out, Rafael Devers stepped to the plate and came through with a base hit. That brought two more home, and now it was a 7-0 game. Things kind of got comical from there, when Santana dropped a pop up on the infield for a single with the defense back in a shift, and then a ninth run came home on a balk.
With the 9-0 score, things were pretty much over but the Red Sox were still looking for innings from Eovaldi, who was at just 64 pitches through five. He’d get through another perfect inning in the sixth on only 10 more pitches, and then the offense added three more, once again thanks to Devers. He smashed his 20th home run of the year for a three-run shot, and it was one of those ones where the outfield just doesn’t even move.
Eovaldi came back out with the 12-0 lead, and he’d toss a second straight 10-pitch perfect inning. That also marked the end of his night as he continues to ride a hot streak out to the west coast.
After Eovaldi left the game, the Red Sox offense added one more in the seventh on a sacrifice fly and then two more in the ninth, and Matt Andriese came on to cover the final two innings. He had an easy first inning of work, but then got into a little trouble in the ninth after a two-out error from Marwin Gonzalez that was followed by a single and a double. It resulted in the lone run for the Royals on the day before Andriese finally got the final out to end the game.
The 15-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 51-31. The Rays had the day off, so Boston pushed their lead in the division to three and a half games.
The Red Sox now head out west for a six-game trip to California, starting in Oakland. They start a three-game set against the A’s with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Frankie Montas starting at 9:40 PM ET.