The Boston Red Sox have won three straight and five of their last seven to cut the Tampa Bay Rays’ lead in the American League East to one game. They’ll get the chance to gain even more ground as they travel to Kansas City to play a Royals team that has lost six straight and 11 of 12.
Boston Red Sox vs. Kansas City Royals
Friday, June 18, 2021 – 08:10 PM EDT at Kauffman Stadium
The Boston Red Sox have moved to within one game of the American League East lead, winning three straight and five of seven. The Red Sox have scored more runs than all but one team in the American League and could pull ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend.
They’ve drawn the perfect opponent to help their quest as the Red Sox head to Kansas City to play the hapless Royals. K.C. has lost its last six games and 11 of 12 to fall seven games below .500 and 12 and a half back in the American League Central.
The Red Sox have won their last six road games, while the Royals have lost their last five in Kansas City.
Rested and Ready
Boston had an off day on Thursday, ending a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. The grueling stretch included trips to Houston, Atlanta and Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox also hosted the Astros, Marlins and Blue Jays. They came through it with a 10-7 record and momentum as they get the weekend series against the Royals before heading to Tampa for a showdown of East contenders.
The Red Sox have succeeded despite problems with their starting pitching. Boston starters have a 6.32 ERA over the last 17 games, more than two runs higher than their season average prior to that stretch. They gave up 16 home runs in the 17 games, nearly matching the 21 they surrendered in their first 52.
How did the Sox post a winning record over that span, while their starting pitching was being rocked? By outscoring their opponents behind one of the most potent offenses in baseball. The Sox are hitting .257, with .755 OPS, both third best in the league.
The Red Sox will start Nick Pivetta in Friday’s series opener. Pivetta is 6-2 with a 4.28 ERA this year and is even better on the road, posting a 3.86 ERA. He has struck out 80 batters in 69.1 innings on the year.
Pivetta has struggled lately, however, along with the rest of the starting staff. His ERA over his last five starts has ballooned to 6.08. He allowed six runs and four home runs in five innings against the Blue Jays in his last start.
Down a Hot Hitter
The Royals have been struggling and will be without their hottest hitter for the near future. Andrew Benintendi, a former Red Sox standout who was acquired from Boston in the offseason, was placed on the injured list earlier this week after breaking a rib. Benintendi was hitting .283 with .769 OPS this season and hit .340 in May as he heated up after a slow start to the season. The Royals did get back shortstop Adelberto Mondesi, who was reinstated from the injured list earlier this week.
Kansas City’s struggles have come during what should be a soft spot in the schedule. The losses in 11 of 12 games started with a home series against last place Minnesota, who are 14 games below .500. After dropping two straight to the Twins, the Royals were swept in three by the sub .500, fourth-place Angels. Then came a series at A.L. West leading Oakland, who won three of four from Kansas City. Most recently, the Royals were swept in three by fourth place Detroit, who is 10 games below .500.
The Royals haven’t announced a starter for Friday. It should be rookie Jackson Kowar, one of the team’s most promising pitching prospects. He has made two starts since getting called up, and it’s his turn in the rotation. After getting rocked in both starts—giving up four runs and getting two outs in his debut, then giving up another four in 1.1 innings the next time out—he warmed up in the bullpen in the ninth inning of the last game. It seems likely the Royals will call someone up from Omaha to fill the vacancy in the rotation.
The Red Sox are the better team, the hotter team, and have a dominant advantage in the pitching matchup. It’s going to be an expensive money line, but there’s no reason to shy away from taking Boston for our MLB picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.