The Boston Red Sox (45-52) finish up their series against the Kansas City Royals (48-48) this afternoon. Boston has already clinched the series by taking the first two games this weekend and are looking to complete the sweep. The Red Sox have won 3 straight and 6 of their last 7, yet haven't been able to climb out of the AL East basement.
Boston got 7 strong innings of one run ball out of Rubby De La Rosa last night and Mike Napoli's 6th inning solo shot put the Red Sox ahead for the win. Koji Uehara pitched a flawless 9th inning to pick up his 20th save of the season, moving him up to 5th most in the league.
- Jon Lester (9-7, 2.65 ERA) makes his first start since his All-Star Game appearance. He wasn't at his best in giving up a pair of runs to the NL team in his only inning of work, but this Kansas City lineup will be a bit easier to pitch to. Lester hasn't given up more than 2 earned runs in a start since June 7.
- Mike Napoli will take a seat this afternoon, despite delivering the winning run last night. It's only the third game since the All-Star break, so it's not like he needs the rest. This seems more about getting Mike Carp some playing time so he can stay sharp. He hasn't played in a week, when he came in as a late game replacement and got one at-bat in the team's final game before the break.
- Xander Bogaerts is also out of the lineup today. With Shane Victorino back with the team, Brock Holt isn't needed as often in the outfield. He may start seeing more time splitting between third base and shortstop in place of the slumping Bogaerts and Stephen Drew until at least one of those guys breaks out of their extended funk.
- Yordano Ventura (7-7, 3.22 ERA) will be on the mound for Kansas City. He trails only Masahiro Tanaka in ERA, WHIP and WAR among AL rookies this season. If the Yankees new ace doesn't return from the elbow injury that currently has him sidelined, Ventura could sneak into his spot as the league's top rookie starting pitcher. The kid throws gas, with velocity that can reach up to 101 MPH.
- With Boston winning each of the two games so far, they've been able to avoid facing Kansas City's All-Star closer, Greg Holland. He's second in the league in saves (25) and among AL closers with double-digit saves this season, only Koji Uehara and Toronto's Casey Janssen have a better ERA (1.82).
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