AL Central

Eighth Inning Rally Propels Kansas City Royals in Potential AL Wild Card Preview

Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon, right, hits a two-run triple as Boston Red Sox's Christian Vazquez, left, looks on in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Sunday, July 30, 2017, in Boston. The Royals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

After having their nine-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, the Kansas City Royals responded with a 5-3 comeback victory on Sunday to secure a road series win against the Boston Red Sox.

The victory marks Kansas City’s tenth victory in the team’s last 11 games and gives the Royals an AL-best 15 wins since the start of July. It also marked the third straight season that the Royals won a three-game road series at Fenway Park.

“We just kept grinding, just keep grinding the at-bats. It’s just kind of typical of our success,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The Royals fell behind in the second inning when Boston’s Mitch Moreland and Christian Vazquez produced a pair of scoring singles. Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers also picked up his second home run of the season in the fifth inning, shortly after Alcides Escobar reduced Boston’s lead with a fourth-inning double.

Despite some early struggles, Royals’ starter Jason Hammel settled into a groove en rout to his third quality start of the month. The veteran starter limited Boston to three runs over seven innings, while also collecting six strikeouts without issuing a walk.

Hammel won his fifth game of the season with help from a four-run eighth inning. Escobar drove home two runs on a bases loaded single to tie the game, and Alex Gordon followed with a bases clearing triple to mark the final runs scored in the game.

Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz contained the Royals offense to just one run over 6.2 innings, but fell short of a victory from Boston’s bullpen mishaps. Brandon Maurer retired the side in the eighth before Kelvin Herrera picked up his 23rd save of the season to wrap up the game.

“It’s obvious we’re not a team that quits,” Hammel said. “The way we started, nothing to write home about. But it’s a long season and we believe in the process.”

Following the series, Boston and Kansas City hold the two AL Wild Card spots with the Red Sox ahead by half a game in the top position. The Royals are also just two games back of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central standings.

The Royals head to Camden Yards for three games to take on the Baltimore Orioles from July 31-August 2. Kansas City swept the Orioles in a three-game home series earlier in May.

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