Closing Time: Jon Lester does it again, this time helping Red Sox to sweep of Royals

Rob Bradford
July 20, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Things are getting at least a little interesting. The Red Sox continued their most impressive surge of the season, winning for the seventh time in their last eight games, this time beating the Royals, 6-0, for a sweep of the teams' three-game series. Unlike their seven-game win streak in May -- in which the Sox were facing two teams in Atlanta and Tampa Bay who were playing their worst baseball of the season -- this doesn't appear to be a mirage. During the current stretch the Sox have outscored their opponents by a combined 25 runs. While all but one of their previous six wins had seen a margin of one run, this was a rare no-doubter. Riding the arm of Jon Lester and an offensive attack that drove Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura from the game after just 4 1/3 innings, the Sox had the game in control heading into the final four frames. The hosts scored one in the first inning, two in the third and three in the fourth to put things out of reach for the Royals, who drop below .500 (48-49). With the win, the Red Sox improve to 46-52, with their next 13 games coming against American League East foes, starting with a four-game set in Toronto. While the offense was fairly spread out, with Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley all claiming multiple-hit days, the star of the game had to once again be Lester. The lefty, who come into the game having allowed either zero or one earned run to Kansas City in his previous 10 starts (1.60 ERA) against the Royals, dominated the visitors. Lester allowed just four hits and no runs while going eight innings to lower his season ERA to 2.50. He also struck out eight. In Lester's last seven starts he has given up just five earned runs in 55 2/3 innings, striking out 47 and walking eight. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- David Ross notched his sixth home run, a two-run blast in the fourth inning. It marked the fifth straight game the Sox have hit at least one home run. -- The Red Sox improved to 35-0 when leading heading into the ninth inning, remaining the only team in the majors that has not lost when entering the ninth with a lead. Closing out the ninth for Lester was Junichi Tazawa (one batter, one strikeout) and Edward Mujica. -- Bradley reached base three times (two singles, walk). For the month, the outfielder entered the game hitting .350 with an on-base percentage of .400. Also continuing his surge was Nava, who matched Bradley with a pair of hits and a free pass. The outfielder came into the game hitting .326 since his most recent promotion from Triple-A Pawtucket (June 4). -- Stephen Drew made his presence felt in the field once again, this time diving all out to stab a grounder off the bat of Omar Infante and then flipping the ball from his belly to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who tagged the base for one out and then fired to first to complete the eighth-inning double play. -- Holt -- playing third base this time -- continued to prove himself as one of this season's best leadoff men. Since being inserted in the lineup's top spot (52 straight games) he has more hits (75) than any other major league leadoff hitter. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- David Ortiz continued his struggles since the All-Star break, finishing the three-game series going 1-for-13, this time stranding seven men on base.