The Boston Red Sox were left searching for answers after visiting Kansas City last month.
When the teams open three-game series on Friday night in Boston, the Red Sox (69-74) could have payback on their mind. The Royals (57-87) won three of the four games from Aug. 4-7.
The Red Sox were slogging through an 11-25 stretch after taking a 13-5 loss in the series finale in Missouri, leaving manager Alex Cora to say, “We’ve got to get better.”
Instead, they are still seeking solutions.
Aside from a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to begin September, Boston has won as many as three games in a row only one other time since over the past six weeks. The Red Sox are coming off back-to-back losses to the rival New York Yankees as part of a current 2-6 run.
In Boston’s 5-3 loss to New York on Wednesday, Red Sox starter Brayan Bello allowed three runs, all unearned thanks to two errors in the fifth inning. A “Little League home run” allowed Gleyber Torres to drive in one run and then come around and score another thanks to an error.
Later in the game, Boston’s J.D. Martinez appeared to beat out an eighth-inning double-play ball that would have brought in a run, but a review spurred by a Yankees challenge deemed that he never touched first base on his way up the line.
“That seems like that sums up our season,” Cora said. “We are where we are because we’re short in certain areas, and we haven’t been able to finish games.”
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Michael Wacha (11-1, 2.69 ERA) is lined up to start on Friday.
Wacha is 8-0 over his last 11 starts, matching the longest unbeaten streak of his 10-year major league career. He continued that run with six innings of three-run ball on Saturday at Baltimore.
Boston put up a season-high 17 runs to win Wacha’s 200th career start.
“It makes our job a lot easier (when the offense comes through in big spots),” Wacha said. “We’re going to get ahead and stay in attack mode and let the defense play behind us.”
His .917 winning percentage is the highest ever in a pitcher’s first 19 starts with Boston.
Wacha is 3-2 with a 3.81 ERA in nine career outings against Kansas City, a team that he hasn’t faced since April 2021 when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Kansas City is in a similar position to the Red Sox, having failed to put together more than two consecutive wins since the last series between the two teams.
The Royals were eliminated for American League Central and wild-card playoff contention with a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, their third straight setback and seventh in a nine-game span.
A Salvador Perez homer ensured that the Royals wouldn’t be shut out for a 17th time this season, but a pair of early homers off Daniel Lynch — who stuck out eight in five innings — helped the Twins finish a three-game sweep.
“He looked good and got better as he went,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Lynch. “He gave us a chance.”
Looking to do the same, Jonathan Heasley (3-8, 5.51 ERA) had won back-to-back starts against San Diego and Detroit before being rocked for seven runs over four-plus innings in a rain-soaked Saturday rematch with the Tigers.
“It’s just one of those you kind of want to almost flush, and it makes you want to get ready for the next one almost,” Heasley said. “Just get back out there and kind of reset. But it is what it is. We’ll just move on from it and just get better from it.”
Heasley has never faced the Red Sox in his young career.
–Field Level Media