BOSTON — The Red Sox officially are hot.
The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 6-0 win Sunday at Fenway Park. Boston now has won seven of its last eight games, including four in a row.
The Red Sox still face a sizable deficit in the American League East, but their turnaround has come at a perfect time. Boston’s next 13 games are against divisional opponents, starting with four against the Toronto Blue Jays beginning Monday.
Let’s get you caught up on Sunday’s happenings.
– Jon Lester’s dominance of the Royals continued.
Lester allowed four hits over eight shutout innings. He struck out eight, walked two and threw 115 pitches (77 strikes). The game never really was in doubt because of the Red Sox’s offensive outburst, but Lester refused to give the Royals an inch en route to his 10th win of the season.
“I think the difference today might have been the ability to change speeds with his breaking ball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “He threw a lot of strikes to both sides of the plate with his fastball, but again, he was able to add and subtract to his breaking ball, with particularly his cutter. The curveball his last three starts has probably been the best stretch (for the pitch) in quite some time.”
Lester now is 7-3 with a 1.43 ERA — his lowest against any AL opponent — in 11 career starts against Kansas City.
– Daniel Nava’s resurgence is one of the Red Sox’s most underrated storylines.
Nava, who was one of Boston’s most valuable players in 2013, has made incredible progress this season since getting off to an incredibly slow start and being sent to Triple-A Pawtucket. He went 2-for-3 with a two-run double, a walk and three RBIs while batting out of the No. 2 hole.
“I think as Daniel’s come back to us, he’s been more the hitter we saw all last year,” Farrell said. “I thought he had a very good approach against (Royals starter Yordano) Ventura today. He’s swinging the bat with a lot of confidence. … He’s done a good job when we haven’t started him every day (and) when we haven’t started him against some left-handers. But to stay ready, come in and contribute as he did today, it’s a big day for him.”
Nava is hitting .382 (13-for-34) this month. Since being recalled from Pawtucket on June 2, he is hitting .337 (33-for-98) with a .421 on-base percentage.
– David Ross drilled a two-run homer. Ross now has 20 hits this season and 11 have gone for extra bases. That includes six home runs.
– Shane Victorino has hit the ground running.
Victorino, who went 1-for-3 Saturday in his first game off the disabled list, went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in Sunday’s finale.
– Jackie Bradley Jr.’s offensive improvement continues. The slick-fielding center fielder collected two hits.
– Bouncing around the diamond still isn’t an issue for Brock Holt. Holt, who figures to see time everywhere with Victorino back, went 2-for-5 atop the order.
Holt also made a couple of excellent defensive plays at third base. One required him to charge a slow roller before firing a strong, off-balance throw. The other was a diving stop to rob Billy Butler with two men on base.
– Stephen Drew made a superb diving stop to start an impressive double play in the eighth inning.
– Junichi Tazawa faced one batter in the ninth inning before the Red Sox turned to Edward Mujica for the final two outs.
Farrell said Mujica didn’t begin the ninth inning because he wasn’t fully warmed up yet.