The Red Sox are hoping another strong start from red-hot Clay Buchholz(notes) can help them get back on track. The Royals’ Zack Greinke(notes), meanwhile, will try to bounce back from his worst outing of the season and help his team win a four-game series at Fenway Park for the first time in 20 years Saturday night.
After sweeping a two-game set at home against AL Central-leading Minnesota last week, Boston won two of three at defending NL champ Philadelphia and then pulled off a three-game road sweep against the major league’s top team, Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox (27-23) looked to continue their run when they returned home to face the Royals (21-28), who had dropped three of four heading into Fenway Park.
Instead, it’s Kansas City that’s on the verge of a season-high fourth straight win. The Royals opened the series Thursday night with a 4-3 victory and followed with a season-high 20 hits in Friday’s 12-5 rout.
Among those hits was Yuniesky Betancourt’s(notes) grand slam - in his return from a concussion - during a seven-run fourth inning. Mitch Maier(notes) also homered and drove in three runs, and David DeJesus(notes) went 4 for 6.
“”To me, since I’ve been here, this club has put together good at-bat after good at-bat,” said manager Ned Yost, whose team has hit a major league-best .282 this season.
The Red Sox are hoping to change their fortunes with Buchholz (6-3, 3.07) on the mound. The right-hander will try to join Tampa Bay’s David Price(notes) as the AL’s only seven-game winners and win four straight starts for the first time in his career.
Buchholz, who is 5-1 over his past six starts, gave up one run over six innings Monday to begin Boston’s sweep of the Rays. That performance lowered his ERA to 1.77 over his last three starts, and he has 15 strikeouts with two walks over his past two outings.
Buchholz opened this season April 11 by allowing three runs over five innings of an 8-6 victory in Kansas City and blanked the Royals over 6 2-3 innings Sept. 24 in a 10-3 road win.
Buchholz has never faced Kansas City at Fenway and he’s never dueled with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Greinke, who’s having a much different experience than last season’s 6-0 start.
While going 0-4 in his first seven starts this year, Greinke (1-5, 3.57) was hurt mainly by the 2.5 runs per game the Royals provided him. The right-hander had a 2.51 ERA over that span but has a 6.61 ERA in his last three outings.
Much of that damage came from his dismal performance Sunday at home against Colorado. In an 11-7 defeat, Greinke gave up eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings - his shortest outing in nearly two years.
He allowed four runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings in a loss April 10 against Boston, dropping to 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in four career starts.
A win Saturday or Sunday would give Kansas City its first series win over Boston since 2007 and its first victory in a four-game set at Fenway since July 13-15, 1990.