After a successful 7-2 road trip on the west coast, the KC Royals will try and continue their success at home against the Red Sox.
The KC Royals took the west coast by storm over the past week and earned series wins in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The sudden surge in wins has propelled the team to a 33-35 record, only 1.5 out of the wild card and 3.5 out of the division leading Cleveland Indians.
The Royals will return home to face the Boston Red Sox, who are currently 39-30 and tied for first place in the American League East. Both the Royals and the Red Sox have been playing good baseball this past week and a half, with both teams sitting at 7-3 for the past 10 games.
With a series containing some of the hottest AL teams right now, the KC Royals need to step up and prove they can compete with serious playoff contenders.
Game 1 – Royals (33-35) vs. Red Sox (39-30)
RHP Jason Hammel (3-6, 5.05 ERA)
RHP Hector Velazquez (1-1, 6.48 ERA)
Time: 7:15 CT
Jason Hammel has turned on the jets the past couple of starts to solidify the move the Royals made to sign him this offseason. In his last start vs the Giants, Hammel worked 6.2 innings while only giving up one earned run. The time before against the red hot Astros, Hammel logged in 7 innings while only giving up one earned run again. The Red Sox rank dead last in the American League in home runs, so look for Hammel to keep the ball in the park and use his defense to get out of any jams he gets into.
Hector Velaquez will be making his second ever Major League start on Monday against the KC Royals. Velaquez was purchased from a Mexican League baseball team in February by the Red Sox, and made his debut in May. In only 8.1 innings this season, Velaquez has given up six earned runs but performed better in his latest outing against the Phillies. He went 3.1 innings and didn’t allow any runs on only one hit in his first ever MLB start.
Prediction: The Royals have won Hammel’s past two starts and there is no reason why the trend won’t continue. The Royals recent hot streak has brought them together to play “team baseball” again, and they should feast off an inexperienced young pitcher. My prediction, Hammel gets his third win in a row and the Royals win their eighth game in nine tries.
LHP Matt Strahm (2-3, 3.67 ERA)
LHP Chris Sale (8-3, 2.82 ERA)
Time: 7:15 CT
Matt Strahm’s first career start went exactly as we hoped. Over 5 innings Strahm allowed no earned runs and got the win against the Angels. In his first ever career start at home, Strahm will look to use the crowd to his advantage against a tough opposing pitcher. If Strahm is able to put together another start like the one in LA, the Royals will have a chance to win this game late.
Chris Sale has been unbelievable this season. In his latest start against the Phillies, the lefty went 8 innings and only allowed one run. His deadly slider will cause the Royals trouble, but this game can be won. Even though Sale is one of the favorites for the CY Young award, the Royals have seen him plenty of times with the Chicago White Sox. This is good news. Eric Hosmer blasts a .367 average against Sale while Lorenzo Cain also puts up a .346 average against one of the best pitchers in baseball. If the Royals are able to get to Sale, look for Hosmer and Cain to drive the bus.
Prediction: This game will be a low scoring pitchers duel. Chris Sale will rack up the strikeouts like usual, but don’t be surprised if the Royals come out swinging. Strahm will need to put in a good start if the Royals have a chance to win because Sale will most likely stay in the game until the 7th or 8th inning. Sad to say, but I won’t be surprised if the Red Sox take a game here. Especially if we have to rely on the bullpen for a number of innings. Series tied going into the decisive game three.
RHP Ian Kennedy (1-6, 5.03 ERA)
TBD – (Probably) LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.19 ERA)
Time: 1:15 CT
In the day game series finale, the KC Royals will throw out Ian Kennedy in hopes of a series win against the Boston Red Sox. Kennedy has actually pitched better than his record indicates of late, with his latest start being a prime example. Kennedy shut the Angels down going 6 innings and only allowing one earned run. He was able to get two outs in the sixth inning before the Angels got their first baserunner via home run. If Kennedy is able to provide the same type of control and dominance vs the Red Sox, the Royals could be seeing another Salvy splash at the end of the game.
Drew Pomeranz went 6.1 innings in his last start vs the Astros and only allowed one earned run. A middle of the rotation type of pitcher, Pomeranz has the stuff to pitch well, but will be an easier matchup than the previous night. Only four current KC Royals players have seen the lefty, but with only one AB each. So with little to no experience against him, the Royals could struggle early but could find their hitting stroke the second or third time through the lineup.
Prediction: In a battle for the series win, I expect the third game to be the closest of them all. I expect the Royals to be down a run or two early, but come out in the later innings finding their groove. The KC Royals will have a good chance to be only one game under .500 with a series win and I believe they will take it. The Royals comeback in the series finale to take 2/3 from the Boston Red Sox.
In a series featuring two hot teams, I expect the series to be a competitive thriller in a pretty rowdy atmosphere at the K. With the Royals recent success and summer finally starting up, the K might be packed for a well known opponent. I believe the KC Royals will stay hot in their quest to make one final push with all of their core still intact; taking 2/3 from the Red Sox. This will solidify their spot as a true playoff contender from this point forward to the rest of the season. A series win would be huge at this point in the season, and the Royals have been playing good enough to make that happen.