Royals at Red Sox Preview
The grand slam is back in vogue in Boston after a year off, and it has become a big part of why the Red Sox won a club-record 19 games in April. The Red Sox hope to carry that success into May starting Tuesday when they host the second of a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals.
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Boston managed to go all season without hitting a grand slam and settled for an American League-low 168 homers overall in 2017, but the Red Sox tallied six in April alone while rolling to a 19-6 mark during the month. Xander Bogaerts became the first Boston hitter to hit his second this season in Monday’s 10-6 triumph, sending a bases-loaded offering from Jason Hammel over the Green Monster in the third inning to give the Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish. Kansas City raced out to a three-run lead in the opener before Boston got to the plate and scored its most runs in almost two weeks, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the club to build upon its first winning streak of the season. Whit Merrifield finished with a pair of RBI doubles for the Royals, who continue to rank last in the majors in runs.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS Kansas City, NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jakob Junis (3-2, 3.34 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (2-1, 2.31)
Junis could not keep the ball in the park during Thursday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, surrendering all six of his runs via the career-high five homers he allowed over 5 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old had been mostly dominant over his first four outings, going 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA despite a rough outing on April 14 when he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 frames. J.D. Martinez (1-for-5) is the only Boston hitter to face Junis, who is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his two road starts this season.
Sale did just enough to get the win Thursday at Toronto, working around a pair of solo shots among the three runs and four hits he permitted over six innings. The six-time All-Star’s ERA is the highest it has been through six turns since 2015, although he has still managed to post a .203 batting average against and 0.97 WHIP. Alcides Escobar is 24-for-70 with a homer in his career versus Sale, who is 10-10 with a 2.99 ERA in 32 appearances (21 starts) against the Royals.
1. The Red Sox’s six grand slams are tied with the 1996 Montreal Expos for the most ever by May 1.
2. Kansas City is 6-for-23 with runners in scoring position over the last two games after beginning the season 38-for-214 in such situations.
3. Boston’s 21 wins are tied for its most through 28 games since 2002.