Royals take on last-place -- but hot-hitting -- Red Sox at Fenway
With their biggest contributions coming from some unlikely sources, the Boston Red Sox continue to pound the baseball during a week of change in the front office.
They were on a similar roll at the plate the last time they took on the Kansas City Royals.
The resurgent Red Sox will try to win three in a row Thursday night when they look to deny the AL-best Royals their sixth straight in the opener at Fenway Park.
Boston has turned it on with a .337 average, 19 home runs and 8.4 runs per game over its last 11. The Red Sox scored all their runs off Corey Kluber in Wednesday's 6-4 home win over Cleveland.
David Ortiz, Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Hanigan homered to help Boston take two of three from the Indians. The Red Sox haven't won three straight since July 30-Aug. 1.
"We played with energy and drove the baseball offensively," interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
Ortiz was batting just .241 on Aug. 6 before going 21 for 42 with five home runs and 15 RBIs over his last 11 games. Shaw is 13 for 27 with four homers over his past six, while Bradley -- a career .204 hitter -- has gone 15 for 31 with four long balls and 16 RBIs in his last eight.
All this while the club learned Tuesday that general manager Ben Cherington is leaving the team and former Detroit boss Dave Dombrowski would be brought in as president of baseball operations.
Boston batted .362 and totaled 24 runs while taking two of three at Kansas City (73-46) in June. The Red Sox swept a three-game series in the most recent meeting at Fenway in July 2014.
Mookie Betts has gone 15 for 31 with two home runs in seven career games against the Royals. After resting Wednesday, Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts are expected to play in the opener.
Danny Duffy (6-5, 4.03 ERA) is tasked with cooling off the Red Sox (54-66) after alternating between good and bad performances over his last five starts. The left-hander was on the good side Friday when he allowed one run over six innings in a 4-1 home win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Duffy has gone 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in four career starts versus Boston, though he gave up one earned run over 6 2/3 innings in a 2-1 road loss July 19, 2014. Ortiz has three doubles in eight at-bats off him.
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Boston's Wade Miley has similarly fluctuated over his last five starts. He looked comfortable with a big lead Saturday, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out eight in a 22-10 win.
In his only meeting since joining Boston, Miley (9-9, 4.58) yielded five hits over six scoreless innings in a 13-2 win at Kauffman Stadium on June 21. Salvador Perez is 3 for 3 with a home run off him.
The Royals have built a 14 1/2-game lead in the AL Central during this 10-2 stretch. Ben Zobrist had four hits in Wednesday's 4-3 win at Cincinnati, leaving him 13 for 23 in his last six.
"He kept the line moving all night long," manager Ned Yost said. "He set up run-scoring opportunities."
Eric Hosmer had an RBI single in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.