Reeling Red Sox return to Fenway to face Royals

Field Level Media

August 05, 2019 at 5:13 am.

In the midst of their worst losing streak since July 2015, the Boston Red Sox return to the comforts of home Monday night.

Except home isn’t likely to be comfortable as the Red Sox play host to the Kansas City Royals for the start of a three-game series. Boston has dropped eight straight in disastrous fashion, and a fan base still upset over a lack of activity at the July 31 trade deadline isn’t expected to produce a warm welcome.

Slumping right-hander Rick Porcello (9-8, 5.74 ERA) gets the nod for the Red Sox in the opener. The Royals will counter with left-hander Mike Montgomery (1-4, 6.34).

Porcello’s ERA is second-worst in the major leagues among qualified starters, but he’s far from the only member of Boston’s rotation struggling of late. Left-hander Chris Sale is eighth-worst at 4.68 after giving up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Saturday, and fellow southpaw David Price followed him with seven runs surrendered in 2 2/3 on Sunday.

Porcello has given up six runs in four of his last six outings, though he’s won four of those starts as he gets the second-most run support in the league (7.32 average per start) behind teammate Eduardo Rodriguez (7.35). Last time out, Porcello was tagged for six runs on nine hits against the Tampa Bay Rays in 5 2/3 innings.

Boston’s skid has come against the Yankees and Rays — the two teams ahead of it in the American League East. The Red Sox are now 14 1/2 games back in the division and 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase, making their chances of returning to the playoffs for the fourth straight year look dim.

“Overall, a horrible week,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “There’s no doubt in my mind these guys can turn it around.”

The Royals, meanwhile, have lost six straight and nine of 10, though expectations are much lower for the rebuilding franchise. Swept by the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins over the last week, Kansas City currently holds the third-worst record in the majors.

Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Twins saw the end of standout second baseman Whit Merrifield’s streak of 135 straight games without back-to-back hitless games — the second-longest such run in the AL since 1946.

“I didn’t know people kept streaks like that,” Merrifield said. “Looking back on it now it sort of reflects the good stretch of consistency that I’ve had, which is what I strive for. It makes me feel good about what I’ve done.”

Montgomery, acquired from the Chicago Cubs last month and still being held to a pitch count as he readjusts to pitching in a rotation, gave up four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays in his last start. He’s 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in three starts with Kansas City.

The Royals will look to avenge getting swept at home by the Red Sox earlier this year.