Boston has long been out of the playoff hunt, but the Red Sox can still wreck the season for the Royals this weekend in Kansas City where a 4-game MLB odds series starts Thursday.
Who knew we would arrive at this point in the season with the Boston Red Sox looking to spoil 2014 for the Kansas City Royals...and not the other way around?
The Royals are trying to end a 29-year playoff drought as they cling to a 1-game lead in the AL Central to begin this series. The 4-game set gets underway Thursday evening in KC with a mound duel between Clay Buchholz and Liam Hendriks, and it's the home team carrying a price around -130 on the MLB odds with 7.5 for the total.
Kansas City made its only visit to Boston for 2014 just after the all-star break nearly two months ago, and the Red Sox promptly broomed the Royals out of Beantown, two of the three contests never making it to the total. The Royals won three of four at Kauffman Stadium last season, giving them five triumphs in the last six clashes on this diamond. Three of the games played in KC a year ago fell short of the scoreboard barriers.
Red Sox Playing Out String On Final Road Trip
Boston (63-83, -29.8 units, 61-81-4 O/U/P) drags a 4-game skid out on the road to begin a 10-game trip that will take the Red Sox to Pittsburgh and Baltimore after this stop. The offense has been dead for the most part during the losing streak, five of the seven runs they've scored coming in the ninth inning of Wednesday's loss to the Orioles.
Clay Buchholz has strung together three consecutive quality starts, one a complete game shutout at Tampa Bay to close August and all three Boston victories. The Texan has chopped about three-quarters of a run off his ERA in the process, the 3-game win streak for the Red Sox following six successive Buchholz outings that each went into the loss column.
Just prior to that 6-start slide, Buchholz beat the Royals at Fenway Park, a 4-run outburst in the sixth taking the righthander off the hook for a loss in a 5-4 Boston triumph. This will be his first start at Kauffman Stadium since his 2010 season debut, and the 30 year old is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA in three career assignments on this mound.
Royals Back Home After Big Win In Motown
Kansas City (80-64, +7.2 units, 62-75-7 O/U/P) just split a 6-game roadie against the Yankees and Tigers. All three of the victories were shutouts, including Wednesday's 3-0 blanking in Detroit to avoid being swept out of first place by the desperate Tigers.
Hendriks is making his second start for KC since the Royals acquired him in late-July from Toronto, this opportunity made possible by Danny Duffy's recent shoulder injury that forced him out of last Saturday's assignment in New York after just one pitch. Hendriks was called upon to take over for Duffy, and allowed four runs (3 earned) in four frames to suffer the loss in the 6-2 Yankees win.
The Aussie was outstanding at home in his previous start for the Royals. Facing the team that originally signed him as a free agent in 2007, Hendriks surrendered just one run to the Twins over seven innings, taking a no-decision in KC's eventual win. He has faced Boston just once before, suffering the loss with seven runs allowed in four frames.
As long as the raindrops can be avoided on Friday, this series should have decent weather all the way through. Thursday's first pitch will find the thermometer in the mid-60s under clear skies, with an 8-10 mph NE breeze (in from center).
The cooler weather and cold bats both teams have shown recently make the low side of the total tempting, but my gut says to play it 'over' for my free MLB pick.
My pick: Red Sox-Royals Over 7.5 (+100)
Season: 116-115 (+0.15)