Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Red Sox made it back from the west coast still in first place in the American League East, but things certainly could have gone better. The Kansas City Royals, who visit the Red Sox for the opener of a three-game series on Friday, are on their own quest for first place and look like the hottest team in baseball with wins in eight straight.
The Royals began their nine-game road trip by sweeping the Detroit Tigers and capped the series with a 16-2 victory on Wednesday – the second time in the last seven games that they pushed across 16 runs. “As a team, we’re in a good spot right now,” Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer told reporters after highlighting his team’s Wednesday thrashing of the Tigers by going 5-for-6 with six RBIs and five runs scored. Boston went 2-4 on its west coast trip, with the four losses sandwiched between the two wins, and suddenly has the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays nipping at its heels in the AL East. The Red Sox will try to silence the hot Royals bats with former Cy Young Award winner David Price on Friday while Kansas City counters with All-Star Jason Vargas.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals LH Jason Vargas (12-4, 3.08 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (5-3, 3.82)
Vargas is winless in his last three starts and allowed a total of 14 runs and 22 hits in 12 2/3 innings during that span. The best start of the bunch came against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, when the California native was held out of the decision while yielding two runs and seven hits in five frames. Vargas is 2-3 with a 3.74 ERA in seven career starts against Boston and has held first baseman Mitch Moreland to 3-for-17.
Price had a run of seven straight starts allowing three or fewer earned runs come to an end at the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, when he was lit up for six runs – five earned – on seven hits and three walks in five innings. The former No. 1 overall pick had his best start of the season the previous time out, when he put up eight scoreless innings against the New York Yankees. Price has yet to lose to Kansas City in his career, posting a 4-0 mark with a 2.13 ERA in eight games – seven starts.
1. Red Sox 3B Eduardo Nunez, who was acquired in a trade from the San Francisco Giants earlier in the week, is expected to be in uniform on Friday.
2. Kansas City 2B Whit Merrifield drove in nine runs in his last seven games.
3. Boston SS Xander Bogaerts is 4-for-38 in his last nine starts and is batting .141 in July.