Boston Red Sox

Leon's 'athletic slide' gives Red Sox a 9-8, 10-inning win over Royals

red_sox_sandy_leon_073017.jpg

Leon's 'athletic slide' gives Red Sox a 9-8, 10-inning win over Royals

BOSTON -- Sandy Leon certainly looked nifty at the right time.

The stocky Leon slid into home plate and avoided catcher Drew Butera's tag on Eduardo Nunez's ground out in the 10th inning Saturday night, lifting the Boston Red Sox past Kansas City 9-8 to end the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

"I saw him reach for the ball, so the right side was wide open so I decided to go for it without him touching me," Leon said. "It was close, but he didn't touch me."

Nunez also hit two solo homers over the Green Monster for the Red Sox, improving to 5 for 9 in two games since being acquired from San Francisco for two minor-league pitchers earlier in the week.

Lorenzo Cain hooked a three-run homer around the right-field pole and Whit Merrifield had a career-best four hits - all singles - for the Royals, who were looking to match their longest win streak since June 2014.

The Red Sox won for just the second time in seven games and remained one-half game behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

Leon opened the 10th with a double off the Green Monster against Mike Minor (5-3). After Mookie Betts was intentionally walked, both moved up on a wild pitch before Nunez hit a grounder that shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stab of and threw to first. Leon, who halted on the play, headed home on the throw to first and beat Eric Hosmer's throw by slipping his hand around the tag.

"He made a very instinctive play and an athletic slide. I know that seems kind of odd because that's Sandy," Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield said. "But he made an athletic slide."

After a delay to confirm the call, the Red Sox celebrated.

"I didn't know what was going on. I was running so hard, I was mad when he dove so I didn't know what was going on," Nunez said. "When I see Leon going to home plate, I was like, `What's going on? Why is he there?' What's going on?"

Royals manager Ned Yost waited and knew it was over after a replay.

"We missed the tag at the plate, but (Escobar) made a great play stopping it and wheeling and throwing to first and (Hosmer) got rid of it as quick as he could," he said. "It was just a tough play. It was a great slide."

Matt Barnes (6-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

Boston tied it on Betts' sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Trailing 6-4 in the sixth, Kansas City scored four runs on two hits, two walks and the two errors. Reliever Blaine Boyer also had a wild pitch and Christian Vazquez a passed ball.

Third baseman Rafael Devers booted Escobar's grounder to open the inning and Alex Gordon walked. Both moved up on the wild pitch. Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio had consecutive RBI singles to tie it. After Nunez threw high on an attempted force at second and a run scored, Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly made it 8-6.

The Red Sox had moved ahead by scoring twice in the fourth and fifth. Vazquez had an RBI double and scored on Devers' single. Nunez hit his second homer leading off the fifth, and the other scored on Mike Moustakas' fielding error.

Cain's homer cleared the short wall and Betts' glove as he leaped, slipping into the first row to make it 4-2.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: C Perez was in the lineup after taking a foul tip off his left thigh that sent him to the ground late in Friday's win. He had left Tuesday's game and sat out Wednesday with soreness on his right side.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was scratched because of soreness in his left knee after being in the original lineup. "There's days where it will act up a little bit," manager John Farrell said. Nunez, originally set to start at shortstop, was moved to second and Xander Bogaerts back in to short.

BAD KARMA

In Bogaerts' first two times up, he came to the wrong "walk-up song." Luke Bryan's `Country Girl' was played over the PA instead of his usual `Gonna Give it to Ya' by DMX.

He was thrown out on the bases after reaching both times.

ROUGH DEBUT

Kansas City starter Trevor Cahill gave up eight hits and five runs over four innings in his Royals' debut.

He was acquired in a six-player trade with San Diego on Monday.

"Not very good," he said. "The offense did a good job of coming back. But it'd be nice to throw some more zeroes up there because they're making the other pitcher work and putting some good at-bats together."

MINOR MOVE

The Red Sox traded minor league LHP Luis Ysla to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday for cash considerations. He was 1-5 with a 5.05 ERA with Double-A Portland.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Jason Hammel (4-8, 4.81 ERA) is set for the series finale. He's winless in his last six starts, but beat Boston for his last victory on June 19.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (10-4, 3.59) looks to extend his career-best streak of winning his last four decisions.

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

red_sox_jackie_bradley_christian_vazquez_091917.jpg

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

MORE:

The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

red_sox_celebrate_091917.jpg

Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Though they rank last in the American League in home runs, the Boston Red Sox have found plenty of other ways to win - especially in extra innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and Boston used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games - tying a franchise record for extra-inning wins set in 1943.

In this one, pitching and defense proved to be the winning formula. After Drew Pomeranz allowed five hits over 6 1/3 innings, five relievers held the Orioles hitless the rest of the way.

"They've been able, to a man, hand it off to the next guy and continue to build a bridge until we can scratch out a run - tonight not even with an RBI," manager John Farrell said. "We find a way to push a run across."

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.

Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save.

"They've been unbelievable," Boston's Brock Holt said of the bullpen. "That's why our record is what is in extra-inning games, because of those guys."

The game stretched into extra innings in part because Bradley made a sensational catch to rob Baltimore slugger Chris Davis of a home run in the fifth inning. Bradley quickly judged the trajectory of the ball while running to his left, then left his feet and stretched his arm over the 7-foot wall in center field.

The finish came after Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman locked up in a scoreless duel that was essentially the exact opposite of Monday night's 10-8 slugfest.

Although he didn't get his 17th win, Pomeranz lowered his ERA to 3.15 and set a career high by pitching at least six innings for the 17th time (in 30 starts).

Gausman was even sharper, giving up just three hits over eight innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.

The right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced before Rafael Devers singled off the right-field wall.

Baltimore threatened in the third inning when Manny Machado hit a two-out double, but he was thrown out by Benintendi trying to score on Jonathan Schoop's single to left field.

No one else got to third base until the sixth, when Baltimore had runners at the corners with two outs before Pomeranz struck out Mark Trumbo with a high, outside fastball.

The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention.

"They're very frustrated right now," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can imagine grinding as our guys have since February and not being able to push a run like that across in some of these games when we pitch well. That's been a challenge for us. I feel for them because I know how much it means to them."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who left Monday's game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his nose, did not start but was used as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning and grounded into a double play. Farrell said Pedroia will likely return to the starting lineup Wednesday. . DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) was out of the starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game. Farrell said Ramirez was available to pinch hit and is likely to start Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Chris Sale (16-7, 2.86 ERA) will seek to match his career high in wins Wednesday night in the series finale. He needs 13 strikeouts to become the first AL pitcher with 300 in a season since Pedro Martinez in 1999.

Orioles: Wade Miley (8-13, 5.32 ERA) has lost his last three starts. The left-hander gave up six runs and got only one out against the Yankees on Friday night.