James Paxton delivered 5 1/3 innings of scoreless pitching, and a collective effort from five Boston pitchers resulted in a seven-hit shutout as the Red Sox triumphed over the Kansas City Royals with a 2-0 victory on Thursday evening.
Following Paxton’s lead, John Schreiber, Josh Winckowski, and Chris Martin took the mound, with Kenley Jansen sealing the deal in the ninth inning, earning his 25th save. This win propelled Boston to a record of 60-55, placing them five games over .500 and securing three out of four victories against the Royals.
“We’ve got a talented group out there and doing really well,” Paxton commented, expressing his confidence in the bullpen’s performance.
For the second consecutive night, the Red Sox leaned on a quartet of bullpen pitchers, effectively holding the Royals at bay. Each pitcher made a significant contribution to keeping the Royals off the scoreboard. Notably, Winchowski, Martin, and Jansen each struck out two batters, while Schreiber’s performance stranded a runner at third base to conclude the sixth inning.
“They attacked the zone with good stuff, and we were able to close it,” commended Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Boston managed to secure their lead in the fourth inning as Alex Verdugo’s sacrifice fly granted them a 1-0 advantage. Adam Duvall extended the lead in the fifth inning with an RBI double.
Trevor Story’s fourth-inning double marked his first hit in nine at-bats since his return from the injured list.
“He was able to catch up on a fastball on an 0-2 count after seeing all those sliders,” Cora noted, highlighting Story’s ability to adjust. “The walk was also good. Just keep grinding and keep going.”
In the fifth inning, amid rain at Fenway Park, Duvall’s hit initially earned a foul ball call from third base umpire Emil Jimenez. Cora chose to challenge the decision, leading to a successful overturn following a review.
Paxton, who allowed three home runs in his previous appearance against Toronto, showcased an improved performance. The left-hander limited the Royals to six hits while amassing six strikeouts and issuing no walks. Paxton’s efforts were buoyed by an exceptional sliding catch by Verdugo that triggered a double play in the second inning.
“He saved me with that nice play,” Paxton acknowledged, expressing gratitude for Verdugo’s game-changing catch and throw that resulted in a double play.
The Royals’ Austin Cox and Taylor Hearn handled the first three innings. Alec Marsh pitched the final five innings for Kansas City, yielding two runs and recording three strikeouts.
Amid their ongoing success, the Red Sox advanced to a 9-1 record this season while sporting their distinctive yellow “City Connect” uniforms. Additionally, Boston boasts an impressive historical record of 24-5 while donning these uniforms.
Maikel Garcia extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games, promptly securing a single on the first pitch of the game. This achievement marks the longest hitting streak by a Kansas City player since 2019.
Chris Sale is poised to make his first start for Boston since experiencing left shoulder inflammation during his June 1 appearance. Cora outlined the plan for Sale to pitch four innings, emphasizing the significance of his return to the team. Meanwhile, INF Justin Turner’s absence from the starting lineup continued due to a heel injury, and Cora indicated a potential return for RHP Garrett Whitlock (elbow) on Sunday. RHP Tanner Houck (facial fracture) was slated for a rehab outing with Triple-A Worcester on Thursday, though the game was postponed due to rain.
The Royals have yet to announce a starter for Friday’s home match against the St. Louis Cardinals, who intend to initiate the game with right-hander Adam Wainwright (3-6, 7.81 ERA).
The Red Sox will continue their 10-game homestand on Friday with the first of three games against the Detroit Tigers. Chris Sale is slated to start for Boston, facing off against Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal (2-1, 3.67 ERA).
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Matthew Liberatore delivered a stellar performance, holding the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless for a career-best eight innings, while Andrew Knizner and Tommy Edman contributed home runs as the St. Louis Cardinals secured a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.
The Cardinals clinched two wins out of three in the series against the Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the AL wild-card race.
Liberatore (2-4) was a key part of a trade deal between Tampa Bay and St. Louis in January 2020, a trade that saw All-Star outfielder Randy Arozarena move to the Rays. In his second start since his call-up from Triple-A Memphis, Liberatore allowed only two hits and achieved a career-high seven strikeouts, showcasing his potential for a regular spot in the rotation.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol praised Liberatore’s remarkable outing, noting, “That was a phenomenal outing. It was fun to watch. Filled up the zone with everything.”
Following a strength-focused training program, Liberatore’s fastball velocity increased from an average of 93 mph in his previous start to 95 mph in this game.
Liberatore’s performance was highlighted by his ability to retire the final 14 batters he faced. His strong showing earned him a standing ovation from Cardinals fans as he exited the field after the eighth inning.
The Rays managed to score twice against JoJo Romero in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Cardinals’ lead. Tampa Bay’s recent struggles at home continued, with a 4-11 record since starting the season 34-10 at home.
Tampa Bay’s starter Zack Littell (2-3), who was recently integrated into the rotation, allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings.
Knizner’s two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead, while Edman’s solo home run in the ninth further extended their advantage.
The Cardinals added another run when Nolan Arenado, who was running on the pitch, scored from first base on Alec Burleson’s ground-ball single to center.
Tyler O’Neill returned to the Cardinals’ lineup after missing two games due to left knee tightness, but went 0 for 4.
Looking ahead, Adam Wainwright (3-6) will aim for his 199th career win as he takes the mound for the Cardinals against the Kansas City Royals. On the Rays’ side, RHP Adam Civale (5-3), acquired from Cleveland, will face his former team as he starts for Tampa Bay against the Cleveland Guardians, with RHP Xzavion Curry (3-1) taking the mound for Cleveland.
The MLB scoreboard for Thursday, August 10, 2023:
Baltimore 5, Houston 4
Pittsburgh 7, Atlanta 5
Philadelphia 6, Washington 2
Los Angeles (NL) 2, Colorado 1
Cleveland 4, Toronto 3
Detroit 3, Minnesota 0
Boston 2, Kansas City 0
St. Louis 5, Tampa Bay 2