Fresh off a sweep of their rival that vaulted them back into first place in their division, the Boston Red Sox are riding high as they get set to welcome the slumping Kansas City Royals for a four-game series beginning Monday.
The Red Sox won three in a row over the weekend against the New York Yankees, including 9-2 Sunday afternoon. The victory, combined with a Tampa Bay Rays loss, put Boston back atop the American League East at a season-high 16 games above .500.
The Royals, meanwhile, have lost five straight and 17 of 21 overall. Kansas City was swept by the Rangers at Texas over the weekend.
The Red Sox and Royals met in Kansas City from June 18-20, with the hosts taking two of three.
Right-hander Garrett Richards (4-5, 4.74 ERA) will take the mound for Boston on Monday, looking to end a stretch of three straight starts in which he allowed at least four runs. Left-hander Danny Duffy (4-3, 1.81) will go for the opposition, still looking to build back up from a stint on the injured list (left forearm flexor strain).
Richards was tagged for five runs (four earned) on three hits and four walks over a season-low 1 2/3 innings in his last start against the Rays. The veteran admitted he is going through a “transition period” after the league’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances has forced him to adjust.
“Changing some grips on some of my pitches, learning new pitches, just trying to figure this whole thing out,” he said after his last start.
While Richards has been scuffling, the rest of Boston’s rotation is on a roll, allowing a combined three earned runs over its last four games. The offense was also clicking over the weekend, as evidenced by four home runs in Sunday’s win.
“All around, probably the best series we played the whole season,” said manager Alex Cora. “We played great defense, ran the bases well, put pressure on them and got timely hitting.”
The Royals lost 4-1 Sunday after being outscored a combined 17-4 over their first two games in Texas.
“We’ve got opportunities to make something happen,” manager Mike Matheny said after the latest setback, in which the Kansas City offense was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. “. . . We had chances to get multiple runs and big innings. We needed a big hit. We talk about that a lot.”
Duffy has assumed a hybrid role for the Royals since returning from the injured list on Wednesday, pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen in short stints. He went two innings his first time out before logging a scoreless frame in relief against the Rangers on Friday.
Duffy is 0-6 with a 7.26 ERA in eight career starts against Boston. The mark is by far his worst against any major league club he has faced more than three times. Richards is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 11 games (five starts) versus Kansas City.
After the series, the Royals return home for six games. The Red Sox will embark on a six-game West Coast swing.
-Field Level Media