Red Sox-Royals Preview
The surging Kansas City Royals aren't making up any ground on the AL Central leaders, but they're certainly making a strong push for a wild-card spot.
Losers of five in a row heading into the All-Star break, the Royals (59-53) have opened the second half with six straight series wins - their longest such streak since reeling off nine in a row 22 years ago. Led by 7 2-3 shutout innings from Bruce Chen, homers from Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell, and two RBIs from Mike Moustakas, Kansas City improved to 16-4 since the break with Thursday's 5-1 series-opening victory.
The Royals, though, have dropped a half-game in the standings to Central-leading Detroit in the second half, as the Tigers have won 12 straight.
Kansas City has still climbed within 4 1/2 of the second wild card.
The Royals go for a fourth consecutive victory over the Red Sox (70-47) with Ervin Santana (8-6, 2.97 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander, like the Royals, has been on a roll since the break, going 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA ERA in four starts - all Kansas City victories. Santana was sharp in Sunday's 6-2 road win over the New York Mets, permitting one run in six innings.
"Keep the ball down, throw strikes, and that's it,'' he said. "That's what I know I can do.''
The Red Sox, two games ahead of second-place Tampa Bay in the East, knew what Peavy (9-4, 4.14 ERA) could do when they acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal July 30. That move paid off for Boston on Saturday when the 2007 NL Cy Young winner struck out seven while giving up two runs in seven-plus innings of a 5-2 victory over Arizona.
"Outstanding debut for us,'' manager John Farrell said. "He was effective, as advertised.''
Peavy, going for a season-best fourth straight winning start since missing nearly seven weeks with a broken rib, gets his second look at the Royals in 2013. He threw six innings of two-run ball in his season debut, a 5-2 win over Kansas City on April 3, after losing his previous six decisions to the Royals.
Peavy owns a 5.55 ERA while losing each of his last four starts at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have outscored opponents 37-16 while winning six of seven at home. Eric Hosmer is batting .429 during this span with three homers and nine RBIs.
Butler, 10 for 25 in those contests, has the highest career batting average off Peavy (.400) among players who have faced him more than 29 times. Butler, though, was hitless in three at-bats in that matchup April 3.
Boston's Stephen Drew will try to extend his season-best hitting streak to 10. He had an RBI single in the ninth inning Thursday after hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-5 win at Houston.
Drew is hitless in five at-bats off Santana, who ended Boston's season-best seven-game winning streak April 21 with seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 victory.
David Ortiz, 2 for 3 against Santana in that contest, should return to the Red Sox's lineup after getting Thursday off. He's 8 for 9 in his last two games.