Preview: Royals at Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are quietly turning things around as they try to convince management to go for it again this season. The Red Sox will attempt to complete a three-game sweep when they host the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday. The Royals are moving the opposite direction with five losses in six games and fell to .500 at 48-48 with a 2-1 setback on Saturday.
Boston's series-clinching win on Saturday was its sixth in the last seven games and featured another strong starting pitching performance from youngster Rubby De La Rosa, one of several inexperienced players keeping hope alive for a championship repeat. Kansas City is closer to its dream of a postseason berth but is having some trouble getting the hitting and pitching to work on the same day over the last handful of games. The Royals led the American League in one-run victories last season but dropped to 10-20 in that category with Saturday's setback.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Yordano Ventura (7-7, 3.22 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Jon Lester (9-7, 2.65)
Ventura made a rare relief appearance before the break with 1 2/3 scoreless innings against Detroit and did not walk a batter. The 23-year-old issued four walks in five innings at Tampa Bay in his last start on July 9, surrendering four runs to snap a string of six straight outings yielding three or fewer. Ventura is making his first appearance against Boston and is 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in seven road starts.
Lester allowed two runs in an inning of work during the All-Star Game on Tuesday - matching his highest total surrendered in any of his last six starts. The free-agent-to-be struck out 12 while yielding one run in seven innings versus Chicago in his last outing on July 10. Lester has had plenty of success against Kansas City, going 6-3 with a 1.60 ERA in 10 career starts.
1. Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli hit the go-ahead homer on Saturday and has reached base safely in 21 of his last 22 games.
2. Kansas City 1B Eric Hosmer has hit safely in a career-high 15 straight games.
3. Boston is aiming for its first three-game sweep since taking out Minnesota from June 16-18.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 3, Royals 1