ROYALS (40-74) AT RED SOX (60-55)
7:10 p.m. ET; NESN, FSKC, MLB.TV
Their eight-game losing streak is behind them, but the Boston Red Sox (-1.5) aren’t out of the woods just yet.
However, manager Alex Cora knows starting pitching is the key to the team’s redemption. After Rick Porcello shined in the series opener Monday against the visiting Kansas City Royals (+1.5), Andrew Cashner will look to keep the ball rolling in Game 2 on Tuesday.
Porcello gave up just one run over six innings in Monday’s 7-5 victory. The quality outing was just his second since June 17 and came after a stretch in which he gave up six runs in four of six starts.
“That’s what we need. They know it. I believe in these guys, and we believe in the group. They’ve done it before,” Cora told reporters. “Seven days of good pitching, the narrative will be different. Everything starts with them. Not that we’re putting pressure on them, they’re just working hard to get it right. Today was a good beginning.”
The skid was the Red Sox’s longest since 2015. They’re still 5 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings.
Cashner (10-6, 4.44 ERA) will be the next starter to look to break from a funk, as he’s lost three of his first four appearances with Boston. He’ll be opposed by Kansas City right-hander Jakob Junis (6-10, 5.03).
Despite the positive vibes from Porcello’s redemptive start, the late innings Monday were more of the same for the struggling Red Sox. Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes combined to give up four runs over two innings out of the bullpen to let the Royals back in, but Brandon Workman bailed Boston out with his sixth save.
Of extra concern is the status of reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts, who exited with a left shin contusion in the eighth inning after fouling a ball off his leg in the seventh. The move was precautionary, said Cora, and the outfielder is considered day-to-day.
Meanwhile, designated hitter J.D. Martinez was scratched from the starting lineup ahead of the game with back tightness.
Even without having to face Martinez, the Royals fell for the seventh straight time. It was also their eighth consecutive defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, their longest skid ever against the club.
A positive, though, was the first career home run for rookie catcher Meibrys Viloria — a solo shot in the seventh inning as part of the comeback bid.
“I’m really happy that I hit my first home run and where I hit it, a stadium with this much history,” Viloria said. “At the same time, I’m not happy that we lost this ballgame.”
In his last start, the right-handed Cashner was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5). Lifetime against the Royals, he’s 0-3 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts.
Junis, meanwhile, has faced the Red Sox just twice in his career, going 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA. He pitched seven-plus innings his last time out, allowing four runs on six hits (two home runs) in a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (+1.5).
–Field Level Media