The recent abundance of Kansas City Royals victories have come mainly against foes far out of contention. They're proving, though, that they can play with the big boys, too.
Kansas City has taken the first two of its four-game set with the visiting Boston Red Sox, and it looks to win for the 16th time in 18 games Saturday night.
The Royals (60-53) haven't hit the 60-win mark this early since they were 60-50 on Aug. 4, 2003, the last season they finished above .500.
Kansas City's current surge began with three victories over Baltimore, but its last 10 wins entering this series had come against the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota and New York Mets .
They scored six times in the sixth to overcome a three-run deficit, including a two-run single from Eric Hosmer . Maxwell, acquired from Houston on July 31, added an RBI single in the inning to complete the scoring."It's just team chemistry, no matter who's at the plate or who's on the mound, we all have each other's backs," Maxwell said. "That's the main thing."
Runs may be tougher to come by Saturday, though, as Felix Doubront takes the hill for Boston (70-48).
Doubront (8-5, 3.56 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 15 straight starts, marking the longest streak for a Red Sox left-hander since at least 1920. He's 4-2 with a 2.02 ERA over his last nine outings after giving up five hits in seven innings of Sunday's 4-0 win over Arizona."Being consistent in my five-day routines and just taking my plan for my next outing, that's the most important one to me," Doubront said. "We're working on that every fifth day."
Doubront's string of games giving up three runs or fewer is the longest by any Boston pitcher since Tim Wakefield 's run of 17 in 1995. He has tried different tactics after going 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 29 starts last season."A lot of playing catch, a lot of front toss and a lot of that, that makes me be more consistent with pitches," he said.
Doubront, though, had two rough outings versus Kansas City in 2012, giving up five runs - three earned - in 6 1-3 innings of an 11-5 win May 7 before allowing four runs in five frames of Boston's 8-6 victory Aug. 26.
Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the Royals looking to win a career-best fifth straight start.
Guthrie (12-7, 3.96) hast posted a 1.29 ERA over his last three after pitching a four-hitter for his second shutout of the season in Monday's 13-0 win over Minnesota.
In the six starts prior to his last three, the right-hander went 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA."Unfortunately, I've had big leads and have not pitched as well," Guthrie said. "Even with a 6-0 lead, I felt (like) I was pitching with a two- or three-run lead."
Guthrie, who is 1-0 with an 8.59 ERA in his last three starts versus the Red Sox, gave up four runs and walked four in six innings of Kansas City's 5-4, 10-inning win over Boston on April 21.
The Royals have won the last four meetings with the Red Sox after dropping the first matchup this season.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Matt Thornton||Day-to-Day||Right oblique soreness|
|July 19, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|July 13, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|July 09, 2013||Alex Wilson||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|July 08, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 28, 2013||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 20, 2013||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
|July 03, 2013||Alex Gordon||Day-to-Day||Left game - head|
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jacoby Ellsbury beat the Kansas City Royals with his bat and glove.
Ellsbury matched a career high with four hits and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Ellsbury had RBI-doubles in the fourth and sixth innings and also stole his major league-leading 42nd base. It was his 10th career four-hit game and second this season.
"I'm seeing the ball and driving it, putting some good swings on the ball," Ellsbury said. "I feel like I've been swinging the bat well and all you can do is get hard contact.
"Fortunately tonight they fell in. I've always been a big believer that it's just a matter of time. I've put a lot of work into it, into hitting and making good contact."
The Red Sox lead the American League with 71 victories, while the Royals lost for just the third time in 18 games.
"It was definitely a nice win for us," Ellsbury said. "Tonight, all three games really, it's been a dogfight. They're playing well and we're playing well. We'll come out and try to split the series tomorrow."
Ellsbury also ran down Miguel Tejada 's sharp liner to end the first with the bases loaded and Jarrod Dyson 's sinking line drive in the eighth with a runner on second.
"There's a lot of ground to cover," Ellsbury said. "If you hit the ball in the air here you have a chance to track it down."
Ellsbury saved runs and drove in runs.
"On both sides of the ball excellent, great defensive play in the outfield this whole series," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's just a tough, tough out."
The Red Sox scored four runs in the fourth. Will Middlebrooks , who was just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, fueled the rally with a two-run single. Stephen Drew drove in a run with a double, extending his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games.
The Royals answered with a three-run fifth. Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler drilled back-to-back RBI doubles and Miguel Tejada hit a two-out single.
Tejada, 39, who has started 22 games at second base, left with tightness in his right calf while diving for Carp's single in the seventh and was replaced by Elliot Johnson .
"We're evaluating it now," Yost said.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront failed to get an out in the fifth, facing four batters before being replaced by Brandon Workman . Doubront gave up three runs on six hits and four walks.
Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (12-8), who had won his previous four starts, threw a season-high 123 pitches in seven innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits and a walk. Ellsbury has a career .435 average against Guthrie.
"With his speed and his ability to put wood on the ball, he's a tough hitter," Guthrie said. "He's always been very tough for me and I didn't execute very well."
Ellsbury drove in Middlebrooks with a sixth-inning double for the final run off Guthrie.
"He squared up some balls tonight and gave me a chance to get around the bases," Middlebrooks said.
Workman (3-1) picked up his second victory of the week with 1 1-3 scoreless innings. Koji Uehara pitched a flawless ninth to collect his 12th save in 15 chances.
Billy Butler had three hits, including two doubles, for the Royals, who loaded the bases in the first but came away empty.
"We had chances early," Butler said. "We had Doubront's pitch count up, but we couldn't get anything out of it early. We just couldn't quite crack him."
NOTES: Both clubs made four roster moves before the game. The Red Sox recalled Middlebrooks, who was hitting .269 with 10 home runs for Pawtucket, and activated LHP Franklin Morales from the disabled list. They placed IF Brandon Snyder , sore right elbow, on the 15-day DL and optioned RHP Pedro Beato to Pawtucket. ... The Royals placed OF Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list with a pulled left oblique. They recalled LHPs Will Smith and Donnie Joseph from Triple-A Omaha and designated for assignment LHP Francisley Bueno , who picked up the victory Friday with 2 1-3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox. ... Royals RHP Wade Davis , who has been on the family emergency leave after the death of his step-brother, will be activated Sunday and will start Monday against Miami. ... The Royals are optimistic C Salvador Perez , who is on the concussion list, would get the clearance to be activated Sunday.