Beckett tries to start recapturing his early season form and Boston looks for a three-game sweep of Kansas City as the teams wrap up their three-game set Wednesday at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox (56-36) dropped three of four games to the Oakland Athletics after last week’s All-Star break, losing their first home series since May and shrinking their AL East lead from three games to a half-game over the New York Yankees.
Boston fell behind 4-0 after six innings of Monday night’s series opener, but rallied for a 5-4 victory and has not allowed a run to the Royals since. Rookie pitchers Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon combined on a one-hitter Tuesday night as the Red Sox held on for a 1-0 win.
“These are the moments you cherish in baseball,” said Papelbon, who rose through Boston’s minor league system along with Lester, “especially with us coming up through the ranks together.”
The defeats merely added to a miserable season for the Royals (32-61), who fell to 13-38 on the road and have dropped five of six since the All-Star break. Kansas City is 4-17—its worst record versus any division—against AL East opponents.
“You play who you play. That’s what matters,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Facing the Royals could be what Beckett (11-5, 5.12 ERA) needs to end his recent struggles. The right-hander, acquired from Florida in an offseason trade, has had trouble keeping the ball in the park in his first season in the AL, allowing a major league-high 27 home runs.
Beckett gave up seven runs and eight hits, including a homer, in 4 1-3 innings of Friday’s 15-3 loss to Oakland. It marked the fourth time this year he allowed at least seven runs in a start.
“No excuses. It was brutal,” said Beckett, who is 4-4 with a 6.79 ERA in his last nine outings. “The score ended up looking like that. It was just brutal.”
The former World Series MVP was 7-1 with a 3.80 ERA through his first 10 outings in a Boston uniform.
While Beckett has regressed after a promising start, Royals starter Mark Redman (6-4, 5.38) has taken the opposite path. The left-hander was 0-4 with a 6.88 ERA through his first seven starts of the season, but has recovered to go 6-0 with a 4.35 ERA in eight outings since a stint on the bereavement list in late May. Redman performed well enough to make him Kansas City’s lone All-Star representative.
He allowed four runs in five innings in his last start on Friday, not receiving a decision in the Royals’ 10-9 loss to Detroit.
Redman has not faced the Red Sox since 2004, but has fared horribly against them in his career. The left-hander is 1-7 with a 9.29 ERA and a .385 opponent batting average in nine career appearances—eight starts—versus Boston.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has had a hard time hitting Redman, though, going 1-for-13 (.077) with six strikeouts against him.
Boston is looking to sweep Kansas City at Fenway Park for the second straight season, and the third time in the Royals’ last four visits.