They would never admit it publicly but the Red Sox have to be happy that they won’t see the Royals again this season (assuming they don’t meet in the playoffs which believe it or not could actually happen this fall). Kansas City (61-54) closed out a 3-1 weekend series at Kauffman Stadium with a 4-3 win over Boston (71-49) Sunday. The Royals finished 5-2 against the Red Sox in 2013.
John Lackey (7-10) made his first start since spraining his ankle last Monday in Houston and it clearly affected him. On the plus side, he was able to give his team seven innings (4 earned runs, 7 hits, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks). Boston scored first, Shane Victorino came home in the first inning after a throwing error by All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. From there, Kansas City and James Shields (7-8) began to settle in. Alex Gordon (3 hits) tied it in their first at bat with an RBI single then Jarrod Dyson and David Lough had RBI singles in the second as Lackey teetered on the edge of getting shelled.
Gordon’s solo homer in the third turned out to be the winning run for the Royals. Ryan Lavarnway (2 hits) gave Boston some life with a clutch two-out, two-run single in the sixth. Shields ended up going seven innings too, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Worcester’s Tim Collins and Aaron Crow (2 strikeouts) teamed up for a scoreless eighth, paving the way for Holland’s dominant 13-pitch frame.
The Red Sox have gone 3-4 so far on this marathon 11-day/10-game road trip which ends North of the border with three in Toronto (54-63) beginning on Tuesday night (7:07, NESN) with Ryan Dempster (6-8) vs. J.A. Happ (2-2). Monday is their first official off-day since the All-Star break, not counting the July 25 rainout vs. Tampa Bay.
What they'll be saying: MLB’s new leader in strikeouts-Mike Napoli-padded his alarming total (155 in only 108 games) this weekend with eight strikeouts in 16 at bats vs. Kansas City. He must be a joy for hitting coaches and managers to work with. The hottest hitter for Boston at this moment is Stephen Drew (can’t believe I just wrote that) who went 2 for 4 on Sunday with a double and run. He’s still an emotionless Drew and he’ll never be Jose Iglesias defensively but if he can stay healthy (huge if), it’s hard to argue with this type of production. For a guy that started this season in Portland (Double A), Drake Britton has definitely carved out an important role on the Red Sox. He allowed two hits and walked two (one intentionally) in the eighth but striking out Dyson with the bases loaded to end it was impressive especially since he somehow didn’t allow a run.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate