Series Preview: Red Sox (63-83) at Royals (80-64)

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On July 20 the Kansas City had just been swept by Boston at Fenway Park which had people thinking oh, here we go again. A strange thing happened though the Royals have gone 32-15 since while the Red Sox are 17-31 since that series.

Wade Davis and the first place Royals returning home to Kauffman Stadium tonight with Boston the opponent . Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight KC returns to Kauffman Stadium for their final 10 home game of 2014 which includes tonight’s opponents, White Sox and Tigers. Importantly the boys in blue lead the division while having a manageable magic number.

Given that it’s been two months since these teams have played we checked in with Sean Sylver from BoSox Injection to see how things are going.

Kings of Kauffman – Injuries, World Series hangover, guys under-achieving what’s been the reason for the 2014 Red Sox?
BoSox Injection – After best-case scenarios reigned last season, 2014 has been the year of the worst-case scenario. Shane Victorino got hurt, Clay Buchholz flaked out, Daniel Nava pressed too hard out of the gate, Will Middlebrooks has a bat made of swiss cheese, the rookies didn’t pick up the ball and the free agent signings didn’t produce. Even Dustin Pedroia got hurt and characteristically stayed in the lineup, to the detriment of his entire offensive profile.

KOK – Boston swept Kansas City after the All-Star break at Fenway, what’s happened since?
BSI – They walloped Toronto the next night, then lost 11 of their next 13. Got shut out a couple of times in that stretch, and the Blue Jays returned the favor on them with a 14-1 pasting (surprise! Buchholz pitched that one). That was it. The lack of run production and bi-monthly Buchholz meltdowns put the season on ice. It’s been fun to see Yoenis Cespedes and a couple of the young guys, though. And David Ortiz keeps plugging along.

KOK – How did fans feel about all the trades made at the deadline?
BSI – I think there’s a segment of the fan base that thinks Jon Lester will return to Boston in the offseason. Whatever the chances, Yoenis Cespedes was a great return. The Lackey deal was viewed by some (myself included) as kind of unnecessary, and Allen Craig‘s lackluster performance hasn’t helped that perception. But they gave themselves some flexibility there by dealing a (potentially disgruntled) veteran. I think hopes are high for next season, and the talent they acquired July 31 will definitely play some part.

KOK – Keys to this four-game series for Boston? Who will be on mound this weekend?
BSI – Clay Buchholz starts the first game, and it would be just like him to turn in a quality performance in a meaningless contest. Allen Webster hasn’t shown any interest in throwing strikes at the Major League level – until he does, he’s just a prospect. Rubby De La Rosa can be a shutdown starter, just doesn’t have the consistency down yet. And Joe Kelly: he’s also walking too many guys but is getting better results than the others. These Sox starters are pretty raw. Offensively, keep an eye on the electrifying Mookie Betts, a resurgent Xander Bogaerts, Cespedes, and of course, Big Papi’s charge toward another 100 RBI season at age 38.

KOK – Series Prediction
BSI – KC is the better team and I feel like they’ll take three of four here. That said, I’m not intimidated by Liam Hendriks or Jeremy Guthrie. If the Sox can get a couple of good pitching performances, a road split would be fantastic.

Probably Pitching Match-ups:
Thursday, 7:10 pm – Clay Buchholz/RHP (7-8, 5.29) v. Liam Hendriks/RHP (1-1, 4.81)
Friday, 7:10 pm – Allen Webster/RHP (3-3, 6.47) v. Yordano Ventura/RHP (12-9, 3.25)
Saturday, 6:10 pm – Rubby De La Rosa/RHP (4-6, 4.01) v. Jeremy Guthrie/RHP (10-11, 4.54)
Sunday, 1:10 pm – Joe Kelly/RHP (1-2, 3.95) v. Jason Vargas/LHP (11-8, 3.25)

Comments on Pitching Match-ups – These aren’t appealing match-ups but the best thing for fans none are overwhelming in favor of the Sawks. Tonight Buchholz is probably the favorite over Hendriks but the next three days favor the home team. Ventura is scheduled to return after missing his last start and faces Webster who’s Friday .500. Saturday Guthrie faces De La Rosa who earned a 2-1 win against Danny Duffy back at Fenway. In the finally former Cardinal Kelly faces Vargas which again should favor KC.     

Series Predictions – It’s odd that Boston comes to the K in last place with it being September, especially after winning the World Series a year ago. Kansas City’s first seven games this homestand against teams near the bottle of the AL so what better than taking advantage of the schedule. Prediction: Royals take three of four

2014 Meetings:
Boston swept the first three game by scores of 5-4 (which was a late comeback), 2-1 and 6-0 in July. Buchholz/De La Rosa earned wins as did some guy named Jon Lester.

Franchise History:
The Red Sox retook the all-time series lead taking three games back east, they are 224-223 versus the Royals now. Kansas City does own a 123-98 record in the city of fountains including a 109-88 record at Kauffman Stadium.

TV/Radio Coverage:
FOX Sports Kansas City has all four games with Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler handling the call on TV this weekend. Joel Goldberg and Jeff Montgomery host Royals Live before and after the game from Rivals in right field.

On the Royals Radio Network (610 Sports in Kansas City) has coverage starting with Josh Vernier before and after. Royals Hall of Famer/2007 Ford C. Frick Award winner Denny Matthews describes the action while Ryan Lefebvre and Steve Stewart join him in the booth at the K.

AL Central Standings (September 11):
Kansas City Royals (80-64, -/Magic Number 17)
Detroit Tigers (80-66, 1 GB)
Cleveland Indians (75-69, 5 GB)
Chicago White Sox (66-80, 15 GB)
Minnesota Twins (62-83, 18.5 GB)

2014 Series Schedule/Results v. Red Sox (BOS 3-0)
July 18-20, Fenway Park: L 5-4, L 2-1, L 6-0
September 19-21, Kauffman Stadium

Game Notes:
Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals

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