The Red Sox changed starting pitchers, but they couldn't change their offensive output.
Rick Porcello took over for the injured David Price, but the Sox' lineup continued to scuffle in a 4-2 loss to the red-hot Kansas City Royals, who won their ninth straight.
The loss, coupled with the Yankees' win over Tampa Bay, dropped the Red Sox out of first for the first time since June 29.
For the second straight start, every run off Porcello (seven innings) came via the home run. He yielded a solo shot to Salvador Perez in the second and a three-run blast to right to Mike Moustakas in the fourth. With some help from a pair of double plays, Porcello faced the minimum number of hitters in four of his seven innings, but without much run support, he was saddled with his league-leading 14th loss.
Boston managed just seven hits, two from newcomer Eduardo Perez, the second of which delivered the first Red Sox run of the night. A leadoff triple by Chris Young and a groundout from Sandy Leon accounted for the only other score in the seventh.
- The home run ball continues to cost Porcello. Last year, he allowed 23 homers in 223 innings - not bad for someone pitching in the A.L. East. But this year, he's already given up 25 homers in 137.1 innings, including two tonight against the Royals. One theory is that, as a sinker-baller, Porcello has been impacted by hitters being more aware of their launch angles -- i.e. swinging with more of an uppercut -- and that, as a pitcher who wants to keep the ball down in the zone, he's throwing right into their (new) swing paths. Not sure I buy it entirely, but there's probably some cause-and-effect. More likely, it's about Porcello not burying his sinker down in the zone the way he did a season ago.
- When the Sox obtained Nunez, they acknowledged that he wasn't about to deliver the power their lineup currently lacks. Instead, they hoped that he could be someone who helps keep the lineup moving. He's done that tonight, reaching base three times in his first three plate appearances with a walk and two singles. His second single scored Rafael Devers from second for the only run of the night for the Sox to date.
GAME NO. : 104
WHO: RED SOX (56-47) vs. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (53-47)
WHEN: 7:10 PM
WHERE: Fenway Park
PITCHERS: RHP Rick Porcello (4-13, 4.52) vs. Jason Vargas (12-4, 3.08)
RADIO: WEEI (93.7 FM)
BOX SCORE: MLB Gameday
SEASON SERIES TO DATE: Kansas City, 2-1. The Royals took two of three in a three-game set in Kauffman Stadium in June.
WHERE THE TEAMS STAND: After a 2-4 West Coast road trip, the Red Sox cling to a half-game lead in the American League East. The Royals, who not long ago considered selling off some players heading for free agency, are the hottest team in the A.L. with eight straight wins. They’ve closed to within two of the first-place Indians in the A.L. Central.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Sox need to get some momentum back as they begin a 10-game homestand. Friday could see the debut of newly-acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez. Meanwhile, Porcello steps in for the injured David Price on the mound.
STAT OF NOTE: The Royals have an eight-game winning streak coming into Friday.
Bradley Jr. CF
* The Red Sox called up LHP Robbie Scott to take the spot vacated by David Price (elbow).
* RHP Doug Fister will take Price's spot in the Red Sox rotation for now.
* LHP Brian Johnson is sidelined by a shoulder issue, and was scratched from his scheduled Thursday start. The Sox made clear that even had Johnson been healthy, he would not have been their choice to replace Price.
* INF Josh Rutledge encountered a setback in his rehab assignment in Pawtucket. Rutledge was dealing with a concussion issue, but in recent days, developed a hip problem. That means his rehab has stopped and he's in Boston -- but not active -- to get treatment on the hip.
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