BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox welcomed back outfielder Shane Victorino with a victory.
Victorino returned to the Red Sox’s starting lineup Saturday as Boston defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-1 at Fenway Park. The Sox now have won six of their last seven games, with Jon Lester waiting in the wings for Sunday’s series finale.
It wasn’t long ago that Boston looked dead in the water. Now, the Red Sox are making waves.
Let’s glance over some notes from Saturday.
— Victorino’s return should give the Red Sox a huge boost, as he impacts the game in so many ways.
Victorino acknowledged before Saturday’s contest, however, that jumping back into playoff contention will require a total team effort.
“I’m not the guy, I’m not the answer,” Victorino said. “I’m not the guy that’s going to carry the load, but I’m going to try to be as good as I can be and help this team win.
“I’m just going to be myself,” the 33-year-old added. “I don’t know what they’ve missed, what I haven’t added to the team. All I can say is that I’m going to go out there and be the best player I can be and have fun doing it. I’ve been watching from afar with pom-poms in my hands, trying to be the best cheerleader I can and keep these guys as positive as they can.”
— Victorino, who hadn’t played in a major league game since May 23, went 1-for-3 in his return.
He singled in the second inning and hit a ground ball in the fourth inning that shortstop Alcides Escobar botched for an error that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game at one apiece.
— It doesn’t sound like third baseman Will Middlebrooks will join Victorino in returning to the Red Sox soon.
Middlebrooks will continue to play third base at Triple-A Pawtucket for now, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. Middlebrooks’ rehab clock reset Friday, so he has 18 days remaining on that following Saturday’s action.
“I think there’s been a little confusion with some of the messages that’s been interpreted that he’s going to be activated this weekend or the same time (as Victorino),” Farrell said before Saturday’s game. “I think the one thing that we want to be sure of (is) that Will continues to get everyday at-bats, and for the time being, that’ll take place at Pawtucket.”
— Mike Napoli delivered the big blow Saturday. He demolished a 3-1 fastball from Danny Duffy in the sixth inning, sending it onto Lansdowne Street for a go-ahead — and eventual game-winning — home run.
“I knew it when I hit it,” Napoli said.
— Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa successfully walked a tightrope for his third win of the season. He issued four walks and surrendered five hits but held the Royals to one run over seven innings.
De La Rosa continues to thrive at Fenway Park.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. was involved in his sixth double play of the season, as he doubled up Jarrod Dyson at first base in the first inning after Omar Infante lined out to center field.
No other outfielder in Major League Baseball had been involved in more than three double plays entering Saturday’s action.
— Left fielder Jonny Gomes and shortstop Brock Holt had trouble getting on the same page.
There was some miscommunication on two popups in the fourth and fifth innings. Both balls should have been caught, but both dropped.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, De La Rosa responded with an inning-ending strikeout in each instance.
— Each of the Red Sox’s last eight home wins has been decided by one run. The Red Sox are 19-20 in one-run games this season.