MLB LOOK AHEAD

Red Sox, Sale look to keep climbing standings

Field Level Media

June 05, 2019 at 8:23 am.

Sometimes mediocre is good enough.

The Boston Red Sox stand two games above .500 following their 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. That puts them just percentage points behind the Texas Rangers for the final wild-card spot in the American League heading into a Wednesday contest in Kansas City.

The Red Sox will be looking to continue their recent success — 20-12 since April 29 — behind Chris Sale.

The left-hander is having a rough season, if you only look at his record. His 1-7 mark and 4.35 ERA do not reveal the whole story. Sale ranks second in the majors with 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings and has recorded at least 10 strikeouts in six of his past eight starts.

His biggest problem has been run support, as the Red Sox have scored more than three runs while he was in the game in only one of his 12 starts. He’s had pretty good success against the Royals in his career, compiling an 11-10 record with a 2.87 ERA in 34 career appearances (23 starts). Wednesday’s start will be his 300th career appearance and 220th career start.

One of the keys for Boston’s offense, Rafael Devers, was named the American League Player of the Month on Monday’s off day. He led the AL in hits (40) and runs (25, tied) while batting .351 with eight home runs, seven doubles and 24 RBIs.

“That was cool,” manager Alex Cora told reporters when asked about the award for Devers. “Everybody talks about the offense, but nobody talks about the defense. I think he had a great defensive month, too. He carried us there for a little bit earlier in the year. You see the results. He’s in a good place.

“What he did this month is amazing, but he knows that he needs to turn the page and keep getting better.”

The Royals will send Jakob Junis (4-5, 5.35 ERA) to the mound. Junis is coming off back-to-back solid outings. He picked up his first win since May 1 in his last game in Texas when he gave up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.

Junis has only one appearance against the Red Sox, also facing off against Sale on May 1, 2018, when he gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings in a no-decision.

The Royals will be looking for more offense to try to turn their fortunes. The trio of Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier appear all over the offensive leaderboards in the American League, but Dozier was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday (retroactive to May 31) because of a right oblique strain. The Royals are hopeful it doesn’t linger.

“The plan was to see how he felt Sunday,” manager Ned Yost said. “If he didn’t feel anything Sunday, we’d bring him in (on the off day) Monday and give him a more extensive workout (so) he could play Tuesday. But he felt it when he was swinging on Sunday, so we decided to make a move.

“I was hoping it would just be a couple of days, but it makes sense to give him a week.”

In Dozier’s absence, the Royals hope they get a repeat performance from Kelvin Gutierrez. In his first stint with the club (April 27-May 16), he batted .281 with a double, a triple, a home run and 11 RBIs in 15 games.