So far, the All-Star break hasn’t hampered the Boston Red Sox’s momentum, and it didn’t solve the Kansas City Royals’ issues on the mound.
The Red Sox seek a sixth win in seven games Saturday night against the Royals at Fenway Park.
Boston (44-52) may be in the AL East cellar, but has won five of six to move within percentage points of fourth-place Tampa Bay.
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That strong stretch continued Friday with Xander Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes hitting two-run homers in the sixth inning to help the Red Sox rally for a 5-4 win in the series opener.
Four of Boston’s 10 hits went for extra bases, and the team is hitting .304 while averaging 5.8 runs over the past six games, dramatic increases from its season marks of .247 and 3.9, respectively.
"The way that guys fought back that was sort of reminiscent of last year," winning pitcher Clay Buchholz said.
The Red Sox could be poised for another strong offensive showing with the Royals (48-47) having dropped seven of 10 behind a 5.17 ERA from the starting rotation.
Danny Duffy (5-9, 2.76 ERA) will try to keep Boston’s bats in check, something he’s struggled to do in the past. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli combining to go 8 for 15 with five doubles, one triple and a homer in their matchups.
Duffy, though, has a 2.83 ERA in 13 games since joining the rotation – the lowest of any Royals starter.
He was sharp in his final start before the All-Star break, limiting Detroit to two runs – one earned – over six innings in a 2-1 loss July 11.
Duffy’s only start at Fenway was one he’d rather forget. He was tagged for six runs and six hits with three walks over 3 2-3 innings in a 13-9 loss on July 26, 2011.
"My rookie year, that was a tough one," Duffy told MLB’s official website. "It’s been a long time, but I’ve come a long way since then. They were a pretty different team back then, too. So, I’m just looking forward to getting out there and executing my game plan."
Clutch hitting continues to be a problem for the Royals, who are batting .283 over the past 10 games but only .208 with runners in scoring position.
Kansas City will get its first look at Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.89), who wasn’t at his best in his final appearance before the break. In his first major league start in nearly three weeks, the right-hander allowed three runs and six hits – two homers – over five innings July 9 before Boston rallied for a 5-4 home win over the Chicago White Sox.
The right-hander had tossed 14 straight scoreless innings while winning his first two starts at Fenway.
De La Rosa served up solo homers to Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell in one inning of relief on Aug. 8, 2013, in his only appearance against the Royals.
Pedroia is batting .369 in his last 16 games, and he’s a career .355 hitter versus Kansas City.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had three hits and two RBIs on Friday and is batting .429 during a 14-game hitting streak,