Game 118: Red Sox at Royals - Big Papi back, looks to spark offense

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

A lackluster performance against Bruce Chen and the Kansas City Royals set the Boston Red Sox back a half-game against each of their division rivals, all of whom were off Thursday. They still hold a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, but will need to do better than scoring just one run in the ninth inning if they want to maintain that lead going forward.

The Red Sox (70-47) are still tied for the Major League lead in wins and send newly acquired Jake Peavy to the mound for his second start in a Boston uniform. Peavy impressed the Fenway Faithful in his first start, going seven innings and allowing two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts to earn his first Red Sox win against Arizona. However, Peavy hasn’t been the best pitcher away from home this season. He has a 6.10 ERA on the road, but this is his first start with Red Sox (not White Sox) behind him. Peavy is 9-4 with a 4.14 ERA combined in 2013.

He is tasked with trying to cool down the Royals (59-53), winners of 16-of-20 since the All-Star Break.

Here is the lineup for the Red Sox tonight (first pitch – 8:10 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Nava, LF
6. Napoli, 1B
7. Drew, SS
8. Saltalamacchia, C
9. Holt, 3B

Peavy, P

The Red Sox will be facing Ervin Santana, who was trade to the Royals in the offseason from the Angels and was trade bait before the July 31 deadline. Santana is 8-6 with a 2.97 ERA this season.

Lineup in need of Big Papi
It was blatantly apparent that the Red Sox were missing David Ortiz’s bat last night. Boston had just three hits through the first seven innings with Ortiz out of the lineup. They tried mount a comeback late, but it was thwarted by the Royals’ bullpen. Ortiz is back tonight in his usual clean-up spot and the Sox are hopeful that he can provide the spark that was missing Thursday.

More or less
Boston leads the league in runs scored at 591 this season. Kansas City leads in fewest runs allowed at 426. We saw last night that defense prevailed over offense in a 5-1 Royals win. … The Red Sox lead MLB with a .836 win percentage when they score first. Boston is 46-9 when chalking the board before their opponents. … Kansas City leads the season series 3-1, with a chance to clinch tonight. Boston has to win all three remaining games to win the season series. Kansas City also leads the all-time series 221-220.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
Have a question or comment for Ben? Give him a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead