Royals Have Top Three Pitchers Lined Up for Lone Fenway Park Visit

Jeremy GuthrieLast winter, the Red Sox and Royals discussed a trade of Jon Lester for Wil Myers, who is the top hitting prospect in baseball and was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2012.

Kansas City, flush with talented young hitters but lacking an ace, did deal Myers. In December, the team shipped him and others to Tampa Bay for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. Shields gives the Royals a true No. 1 for the first time since Zack Greinke left town, and he will start Friday’s series opener at Fenway.

Shields (1-2, 3.43) has been very good in two of his three starts this year, yet the Royals lost those two. Last time out he pitched a complete game, but KC lost 3-2 to Toronto. It was Shields’ sixth complete-game loss in the past seven years, the second-most in the major leagues. His victory came when he allowed four runs and 10 hits in a 9-8 win at Philadelphia. Shields was 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts against Boston a year ago.

He usually doesn’t fare well at Fenway, going 2-9 with a 5.86 ERA in 11 career starts. Those are easily the most losses he has in any opposing team’s park. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .320 with two homers in his career against Shields, while Jacoby Ellsbury is at .244 with two homers. David Ortiz (.314, three homers, 15 RBIs) really rakes against Shields, and he’s hoping to debut Friday.

On Saturday, right-handerĀ Ervin Santana starts for the Royals. He was acquired from the Angels for a minor-league pitcher last Halloween. Santana was 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while serving up a major league-worst 39 homers. The change of scenery appears to have worked as Santana (1-1, 2.45) has had back-to-back excellent starts, both Kansas City wins, after losing his debut. He has allowed four home runs already.

Santana made one start against Boston last year, allowing two runs and five hits in a 5-3 Angels win at Fenway. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer. Mike Napoli has had success against Santana, hitting .400 with three homers and six RBIs.

In the finale, righty Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.20) is scheduled to start. Two of his three outings have been quality starts, including an excellent one in a no-decision Tuesday against the streaking Braves. Guthrie hasn’t lost in his past 14 starts, and KC has won 12 of them. Guthrie faced the Sox on August 25 last year and was shelled for seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, although the Royals won the game 10-9. That was the day the Sox made the big trade with the Dodgers. Guthrie has allowed 20 earned runs in 22 innings in his last five appearances at Fenway. Ellsbury is a career .385 hitter against Guthrie, while Ortiz is at .342 with three homers and nine RBIs.

The Sox won last season’s series with the Royals 4-3, including three of four at home. Alex Gordon, the Royals’ best hitter, batted.407 with seven RBIs against Boston in 2012, while Billy Butler hit .321 with a homer and five RBIs. Boston will be favorites at Bovada in each game and around -165 on the series line.

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