Royals face Red Sox’s Sale, a familiar adversary
BOSTON — Having spent the bulk of his career pitching for the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central, Chris Sale has faced the Kansas City Royals more than any other major league team.
On Tuesday night, the skinny left-hander faces Kansas City for the 33rd time — the 22nd as a starter — when he starts for the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox posted a rainy 10-6 victory over the Royals on Monday night, improving to 21-7 while ending the Royals’ first two-game winning streak of the season and dropping them to 7-21.
Jakob Junis, one of the few bright spots for manager Ned Yost this season, opposes Sale and faces the Red Sox for the first time in his career.
The Red Sox, who failed to hit a grand slam last season, collected their sixth — the second by Xander Bogaerts — on Monday night, tying them with the 1996 Montreal Expos as the only teams ever with six slams before May 1.
“I didn’t hit a grand slam in my career, so it’s not because of me,”Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Boston has one fewer slam than Kansas City has wins.
Bogaerts, just back from the disabled list last Friday night, is hitting .412 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 12 games after his three hits Monday.
“That’s a huge shot in the arm for us, getting him back out there,” said teammate Mitch Moreland, who had three hits, including a long homer, on Monday.
Sale, who defeated the Royals for the Red Sox last season, is 2-1 in 2018 but probably deserves a better record. He has a 2.31 ERA and the Sox have gone 4-1 in his starts.
He is just 10-10 (83-49 against everyone else) with a 2.99 ERA lifetime against the Royals, who used to be a team to beat in the Central.
The current Royals are hitting a combined .268 against him but with just three home runs in 280 at-bats — and the 10 wins against Kansas City matches his high against any team (he’s 10-6 against the Minnesota Twins).
Junis, who went 9-3 as a rookie last year, is 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA this season but is coming off a loss that saw him tie a team record by surrendering five home runs to the White Sox in his last start.
He entered that start with a 2.03 ERA but became the third Royals pitcher to allow five in a game.
“You give up a couple (of solo) homers and that won’t beat you,” he said. “And maybe even if I don’t give up the two-run homer (in the sixth), I would have gotten through six innings with four runs and would have given us a chance to win. But six runs, I didn’t really get it done.”
An ominous note for Junis — the Red Sox are 19-4 in games started by right-handers this season, righties going 1-13 with a 7.86 ERA against them.
Mike Moustakas, another of the few Kansas City bright spots, left Monday’s game in the first inning after being struck on the right forearm. X-rays were negative and he is considered day to day with a contusion.
It was the second straight day a Royal had to leave a game — Alcides Escobar left Sunday’s game with a bruised hand but played Monday night.
Mookie Betts, bothered by hamstring tightness, missed his second straight game for Boston, with the wet field cementing the decision for Cora.
J.D. Martinez is the only Red Sox player who has faced Kunis, going 1-for-5 against him. Escobar is 24-for-70 (.343) with a homer and 11 RBIs lifetime against Sale.
Martinez has gone 6-for-8 in the last two games, both victories.
As May begins, the Red Sox can start thinking about getting Dustin Pedroia back from knee surgery for his 2018 debut. Working out in Florida, Pedroia told The Athletic he is looking at May 25.
Eduardo Nunez has been the regular season baseman with Pedroia out and is hitting .240 with eight RBIs.