BOSTON -- If the Kansas City Royals are going to prevail in the rubber game of their three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park, they're probably going to have to figure out how to keep second baseman Dustin Pedroia off the base paths.
The Red Sox leadoff man went 4-for-5 as Boston snapped a three-game losing skid with an 8-3 win against the Royals on Saturday. He has been on base in 18 straight games and has had a hit in 17 of those games. Before he grounded into a double play in the eighth inning he had a hit in 11 straight at-bats, one shy of the major-league record.
Pedroia is 33-for-72 since being moved into the leadoff spot by manager John Farrell.
"He's been hotter than a firecracker for sure," manager Ned Yost said Saturday after the Royals lost for just the second time in 13 games. "Four-for-4 last night, 4-for-5 tonight, he's just in a real hot streak. And what's amazing to me, he keeps his bat in the zone. He can handle so many pitches. He's just a really good hitter. I've always thought that about him though."
The Red Sox, who lead the league in runs scored, had scored seven runs during their three losses prior to Saturday when they beat hot Royals starter Danny Duffy. Now it appears they're back on track and they'll look to keep their bats going in support of Eduardo Rodriguez, who makes his return to the rotation Sunday.
"We swung the bats well," Pedroia said Saturday. "A lot of guys had great at-bats. What can you say? We beat a guy that's really tough. So we'll get to tomorrow and try to continue it.
Rodriguez (2-5, 5.11 ERA) threw four no-hit innings with two walks and seven strikeouts in his last start Aug. 16 on the road against the Baltimore Orioles before he left with a hamstring injury. Rodriguez thought he would make his next start Aug. 21, but was scratched the night before.
The Red Sox lost that game 10-5 to the Detroit Tigers with Henry Owens filling in as their start. Rodriguez will look for redemption against the Royals.
"Yeah, because I know it was partly my fault," Rodriguez told WEEI.com. "I was supposed to pitch that game. I feel bad but I have to get ready for the next one."
Rodriguez threw a simulate game Tuesday and a bullpen session Thursday in preparation for his next start.
"I was able to throw all my pitches where I wanted them," Rodriguez told the Boston Herald. "It feels good."
The Royals will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura, who has been tough to hit in August. Ventura (9-9, 4.27 ERA) is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in six starts in August. The Royals have won all six games Ventura started this month. It's been quite a turnaround for Ventura after he went 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA in July.
Alex Gordon hasn't been as hot as Pedroia but he's been a catalyst for the Royals offense. He went 1-for-4 with a double Saturday to extend his hitting streak to five games. He has at least one hit in 16 of his past 17 games, hitting .349 (22-for-63) in that span.