By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON As the summer heathas picked up, so have the Red Sox.
The Sox have been the best team in Major League Baseball during the month of July by absolutely scalding the ball all the way to a 17-4 record for the month, and took another step with a 13-9 thrashing of the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.
It was the sixth time during July that the Sox have scored more than 10 runs in a game and out-slugged whichever team lined up against them on the other side of the diamond.
The middle of Bostons batting order did the bulk of the damage in a game that featured a feeble mound performance from lefty Andrew Miller, and Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz powered Boston to victory.
Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ortiz combined to go 10-for-13 with six runs and 8 RBI in the middle of Bostons hitting attack and slammed through Kansas City pitching immortals like Danny Duffy, Nate Adcock and Blake Wood.
Pedroia had a triple, double and single in his first three times up to the plate during the game in the first four frames, but couldnt finish off the cycle with the home run after extending his career-best 23 game hitting streak.
The Sox needed all of the sock because Miller was a puddle on the mound from the very beginning in a fairly important start with Bostons starting rotation beginning to regain some healthy hurlers. Miller was knocked around for seven runs on nine hits before getting yanked midway through the fourth inning, and actually exited trailing the ballgame. He compounded his subpar mound work with a terrible throw to first on an Alcides Escobar bunt that prolonged a second inning Royals rally.
Luckily for Miller and the Sox, Alfredo Aceves rode in to the rescue from the bullpen and earned the win for Boston after spinning 3 13 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts.
Player of the Game: Who else but Dustin Pedroia? The Sox sparkplug went 4-for-4 in his first four trips to the plate and ended up only a home run short of hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career. Pedroia also extended his career-best hitting streak to 23 games a franchise record for the Sox by a second baseman. The career numbers that Pedroia posts at the cleanup spot would indicate that perhaps he deserves a little extended time in the No. 4 hole at some point this season. Hes also back up over the .300 batting average mark for the season after his average climbed from .297 all the way to .304 with his 4-for-5 night.Honorable Mention: Alfredo Aceves -- just like Julian Tavarez before him -- gets little recognition or fanfare for the job that he does, but performs his role as a rubber-armed long man in the Sox bullpen that allows Boston to win ballgames. Aceves tossed 3 13 innings of scoreless relief after Andrew Miller couldnt make it out of the fourth frame, and improved his record with the Sox to 6-1 on the season. Hes been a marvelous pick-up for Boston this year with a 3.28 ERA in an extremely underappreciated role.The Goat: Andrew Miller and Danny Duffy sound more like music composers than Major League Baseball pitchers, so its probably appropriate that neither of them made it cleanly out of the fourth inning. Actually neither of them made it out of the fourth inning at all. While Duffy is Kansas Citys problem amid a horrendous starting rotation, Miller may be running out of turns in Bostons starting staff if he cant get things straightened out. He was continuously behind in the count, looked shaky fielding his position and served up a couple of batting practice fastballs to Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in the fateful fourth. Miller needs to be better.Turning Point: The Sox batted around in the fifth inning and plated six runs that gave them the lead for good in a run-filled game that was easy on the scoreboard, but not so kind to the ERAs of numerous pitchers. The big play was a two-base error by Mike Aviles that saw him drop a bunted ball while covering first base and then air-mail a throw to home that allowed both Josh Reddick and Yamaico Navarro to score.By the Numbers: 15 the number of years since a Red Sox player hit for the cycle when John Valentin pulled the trick on June 6, 1996 against the Chicago White Sox. Pedroia had the triple, single and double in his first three at bats, but flew out to deep left field in the eighth inning in his final chance to go for the cycle.Quote of Note: If Im Tito Im letting him hit clean-up all year and make it easy for us. David Ortiz with a piece of friendly advice for Terry Francona when asked what he thought about Dustin Pedroia in the clean-up spot during Tuesdays win.