The Red Sox are not having a very good season so far, and after a seventeen-inning loss ended with them victims of a sweep at the hands of the Orioles, they now enter Kansas City with a five game losing streak and, arguably, a new low point for the year.
The good news for the Sox is that they're finally running into a team that's at an even lower point than they are. 27 games into the season the Royals sit at a dreadful 9-18, on pace for some 108 losses on the year. Like the Red Sox, they've been completely incapable at turning home field into an advantage with a 2-12 record at Kauffman Stadium. And, while they've managed to allow five fewer runs on the season, they've scored a staggering 52 fewer than the Sox.
Will Kansas City prove the cure to what ails the Sox? Long-term that seems unlikely, but at least for now they might be able to get a few wins on the board.
Boston Red Sox (11-16) vs. Kansas City Royals (9-18)
Monday, May 7, 8:10 p.m. EST
Felix Doubront (1-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 5.24 ERA)
Felix Doubront endured a bizarre outing in his last start, looking dominant in some at bats and then completely hittable in others. The result was five runs for the Oakland Athletics in just four innings despite Doubront picking up eight strikeouts along the way. It's a start that seems to encompass the best and worst of Doubront, who has excellent swing-and-miss stuff but can struggle to put batters away at times, driving up his pitch count and, in this case, resulting in runs. Still, he's been arguably the most technically proficient starter for the Sox so far this season, and the Royals should present him with an opportunity to get his results back in line with his peripherals.
So far it's been rough going for Jonathan Sanchez in his transition to the American League. Only in his season debut did he allow fewer walks than he recorded strikeouts--a very bad sign for any pitcher. While the Sox haven't done the best job of living up to their reputation as a patient team of late, Sanchez doesn't exactly have swing-and-miss stuff right now either. This is a game they should score in.
Tuesday, May 8, 8:10 p.m. EST
Daniel Bard (2-3, 4.38 ERA) vs. Danny Duffy (2-2, 3.57 ERA)
Daniel Bard was at his worst in his last start, lacking fastball control as he did against the Rays but without the ability to spot his slider well enough to rely on it as he did then. Frankly, it was the first time he's actually looked bad so far in the rotation, and even then it only cost him four earned runs in five and a third innings. Hopefully he can right the ship tonight.
Danny Duffy is one thing that is going very right for the Royals right now, and the Sox should take him seriously. A third-round pick in 2007, Duffy lived up to his draft position as he worked through the minors, earning top-100 prospect billing after 2010 and performing decently as a rookie last year. So far he's been a front-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 with his fastball, slider, and curveball. He's had some relatively easy competition, especially compared to this at-times dominant lineup, but it would be no surprise at all if he were up to the task of shutting the Sox down as well.
Wednesday, May 9, 8:10 p.m. EST
Jon Lester (1-2, 4.62 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-4, 4.98)
Jon Lester struggled to hold onto leads against the Orioles, but despite not being at his best managed to hold on for a quality start. It's a much more encouraging result then might have been expected early on in his outing, and lets Sox fans hold on to the hope that he's working his way back from his typically difficult April.
After sliding by with average pitching in 2011, Bruce Chen is showing his quality in 2012. A complete junkballer, he's the sort of pitcher the Sox have done serious damage to of late. In short, this is another game the Sox should stand a very good chance of taking. It's just a question of whether or not they'll actually live up to expectations--something they've failed to do for much of the last eight months.